WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – An unlikely proposal to create a dress code to sway unkempt parents from showing up at school functions was quashed Wednesday.
The discussion spurred by Karen Brill, a member of the Palm Beach County School Board, generated national interest for turning the tables on adults, who for generations have nitpicked children's appearance. But the suggestion was met by nothing but dissent from other board members during 12 minutes of debate and showed no sign of being resurrected.
"I want to make sure that every school is inviting to parents," board member Marcia Andrews said. "And whatever they're wearing is secondary in my mind."
Brill opened the discussion expressing surprise by the attention generated by her comments — evident by the bank of television cameras recording her words.
"I think sometimes we have to pause to think about how we are attired," she said.
Five board members spoke in opposition. None came to Brill's side.
"I think we're going in a terrible direction to even talk about this," said Frank Barbieri, vice chairman of the board.
The idea originated just south, in Broward County, where the school board was considering changes to the student code of conduct. Board member Rosalind Osgood said parents were showing up wearing sagging pants, pajamas and rollers in their hair and that a policy pertaining to their appearance might be appropriate, too.
"I'm not asking them to wear three-piece suits or prom gowns or anything like that. I'm just asking them to be presentable," Osgood said.
Both Brill and Osgood insist they've heard nothing but support. The meeting Wednesday was not open to parent feedback, but Brill got an earful from her colleagues.
"We say that parents send the best children they have to school. Well, guess what? Kids send the best parents they have too," school board member Debra Robinson said.
No vote was taken in Palm Beach, but the proposal appeared unlikely to be revisited. Broward County has taken no action yet.
Debra Wilhelm, president of the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers Association union, said addressing parents' dress was far from being the most important issue facing schools, and she questioned what effectiveness a policy could even have.
"Who's going to enforce it?" she asked. "Are they going to have school police arrest parents?"