09/14/04 — School board eases dress code restrictions for male teachers

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School board eases dress code restrictions for male teachers

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on September 14, 2004 2:00 PM

Loosen your collars, men.

It's going to be a long school year.

The Wayne County Board of Education voted Monday to ease the dress code for male teachers, effective immediately. They will no longer be required to wear ties in the classroom.

School board member Rick Pridgen proposed the change to allow men to wear dress or knit shirts as long as they are neat and tucked in. The dress code now applies to all male teachers, including coaches.

Female teachers were already allowed to wear knit shirts, Pridgen said, calling the tie requirement for men "a double standard."

He had asked for a change earlier this year after hearing several male teachers rail about the dress code, but other school board members did not support him. Complaints, however, have persisted, he said.

Shirley Sims was the only member of the board to object. She believes that teachers have an obligation to dress professionally, she said.

Some board members had argued privately that dress standards have changed, that even President Bush and U.S. Sen. John Kerry had campaigned recently without ties, Ms. Sims said. "But they are not in front of our students, trying to teach, train and mold them."

She predicted that, given this concession, students and staff would continue to push for looser dress codes. "That is the direction that our society seems to be moving, unfortunately," she said.

She did not vote against the change, which made the vote unanimous.

Male coaches and physical education teachers had been exempted from the tie requirement. The dress code allowed them to wear clothing appropriate for their coaching duties.

The school board eliminated that exemption as part of the change. That means coaches will need to wear shirts with collars when they're in the classroom.