A move to button down the dress code in the Northampton Area School District has been delayed for at least a year.
The Northampton Area School Board voted 6-1 Monday night to send the matter back to its policy committee so students, administrators, parents and district residents can all have weigh in on the subject.
Board member Jennifer Miller, who is on the three-person policy committee, said it was "blatantly obvious that people have a lot to say. ... Perhaps we did push a little too far."
Board member Jean Rundle, who cast the only no vote, said she was surprised that the matter was being sent back to committee and unhappy that the issue was being "put on the back burner."
After the vote, Supt. Joseph Kovalchik said he would cancel a presentation on the proposed dress code policy in the high school auditorium that was set for the board's March 25 meeting and come back to the board with a plan to schedule a series of small meetings throughout the district where people can express their concerns.
Kovalchik advised the board he would be sending out a letter to parents saying that any changes in the dress code would take effect during the 2013-14 school year at the earliest.
The superintendent said changing the code "is a lengthy process," because it not only affects about 5,500 students, but 600 employees.
"Let's not forget the front-line folks who are going to have to enforce this," Kovalchik said.
The meeting room was packed Monday night with parents and students ready to again debate the proposed changes, but the debate never materialized.
Several board members recounted what they had been told either in person or by phone calls, and most of the reaction was not favorable.
"We need to take a step back," said board and policy committee member Michael Baird. "We're not going to let something like this turn into a circus. We need a structured way to take this comment."
He also directed a comment to the crowd. "I welcome you telling me on how to make this better."
Baird said he was not backing down on the need for the policy to be modified. He said he visited several schools "and I was appalled at what I saw at some of the buildings. The kids looked more ready for the beach than a classroom."
The last effort to change dress code started last summer, and debate began in earnest last month.
The changes would have limited students to wearing five colors of shirts and pants -- orange and black (the high school team colors), tan, navy and white. It would also have required shirts with collars, and banned jeans as well as shorts with more than four pockets.
A move to change the dress code was defeated in 2007.