Things have gone from bad to worse for the public school system in Little Rock, Ark.
In August 2013, the district announced — to the great dismay of the teachers union — a dress code that would require teachers to wear underwear. Every single day. Female teachers would have to wear bras, too. And the very worst of all: No spandex. (RELATED: Little Rock School District Will Now Make Teachers Wear Underwear)
Now, a mere 18 months later, the Arkansas Department of Education has voted to assume control over management of the school district, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
The narrow 5-4 vote on Wednesday by the state school board effectively wrests control of the district from the local school board (but keeps Superintendent Dexter Suggs on the job on an interim basis).
The state school board intervened because the Little Rock school district is home to six schools which are deemed to be under academic distress. Three are high schools. Two are middle schools. One is an elementary school.
The 5-4 vote for a takeover came after state education officials had also voted 5-4 against a compromise plan that would have entailed a state-local partnership.
“At some point you just have to go in a new direction,” board chairman Sam Ledbetter told the Democrat-Gazette.
Ledbetter proved to be the deciding vote on both ballots.
“Bottom line, it was the best thing for students,” board member Vicki Saviers told the Little Rock newspaper.
Greg Adams, the president of the Little Rock school board, expressed disappointment.
“My concern now and my hope is the kids of Little Rock will be served well and that the leadership that’s going to be there will be able to find effective ways for the kids,” Adams said.
The August 2013 announcement of a new dress code declared that “foundational garments shall be worn and not visible with respect to color, style, and/or fabric.”
T-shirts, patches and other clothing containing slogans for beer, alcohol, drugs, gangs or sex were similarly prohibited. Other verboten garments included cut-off jeans with ragged edges and cut-out dresses.
“Tattoos must be covered if at all possible.” No flip-flops. “No see-through or sheer clothing.” No jogging suits, either (though gym and dance teachers got a pass on that one).
In a letter to the teachers union rank and file, local teachers union president Cathy Koehler explained her fear that “if an employee refuses to go home and change they can be considered insubordinate and risk losing their job based on an opinion.”