03/27/07 — Parents will pick school dress codes

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Parents will pick school dress codes

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 27, 2007 2:08 PM

The Board of Education approved changes to the student dress code Monday night. Whether it passes at individual schools will be up to the parents.

The "higher standard dress code" was presented to the board with revisions to counter problems that have arisen with too many oversized clothes, especially T-shirts and pants. But at the outset it will only be adopted if parents accept the new recommendations.

"This is for those schools who'd like to adopt it," Vice Chairwoman Thelma Smith said. "We're not trying to force anything on any one particular school or community, but if the parents would like to do this, we would like them to be able to. If you don't want to join in, don't. But I think those that do ought to have the opportunity."

The Wayne County Board of Education is providing schools with an opportunity to implement a higher standard dress code. Clothing requirements would be in addition to the dress code currently in effect in all schools.

Before the end of the current school year, surveys are to be sent home to parents at each school. In order for the dress code to pass at any individual school, 70 percent of parents responding to the survey must support the following dress requirements:

Pants, skirts, shorts, jumpers, dresses, skorts:

*Colors: Solid tan khaki, solid navy blue, solid black, solid green

*Must be free of labels, graphics or embroidery of any kind

*Must have no more than six pockets, including coin pocket

*No overalls or coveralls

*Approved shirt or top required when wearing a jumper


*Solid colors: white, red, light or navy blue, green, pink

*Must be free of labels, graphics and embroidery of any kind

*Long or short sleeves (sleeveless not permitted)

*Must have collars

*Must be tucked in at all times

Other approved tops

*Must be free of labels, graphics and embroidery of any kind (except school spirit wear approved by principal)

*School letter jackets

*Oxford button down collar dress shirts in approved solid colors

*Mock turtlenecks/turtlenecks in approved solid colors

*Crew neck sweaters, vests, sweatshirts and hoodies in approved solid colors worn over collared shirts (do not have to be tucked in, but cannot hang past the straddle of the pants)

*T-shirts in approved solid shirt colors worn under the collared shirt

The proposed dress code was explained by Olivia Pierce, executive director for public relations, and Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability and student services. In addition to omitting oversized clothing, as well as blue jeans, it specifies which colors can be worn.

The recommendations are not to squelch student individuality, the school board said, nor should the word "uniform" be used, said Shirley Sims, board chairwoman.

"It's more than just our wanting them to look alike. The children will have an opportunity to wear any color they would ordinarily wear," Ms. Sims said.

"Individuality, that's wonderful. They have time after school, on the weekends, to be as individual as they like. But during school, we ought to do what's best for the students," Ms. Smith said.

And that means ensuring they have the best possible educational experience, without the distraction that comes from being focused on what they have on, she said.

Ms. Sims said modifications to the current dress code would be an improvement. In fact, she said, safety could be better enhanced if there were some uniformity.

"With the wide open campuses that we have, people can drive up to our schools and go inside without anybody knowing it. We're trying to do what our mission statement says -- (have a) safe learning environment for our students."

Whether parents agree remains to be seen.

McFadden said a survey will be sent home within the next two weeks, asking for response from parents across the county. In addition to the specific recommendations, parents will also receive a price list with estimated costs for clothing from different area stores.

At each school, 70 percent of parents responding must be in support of the changes for the dress code to be implemented.

The new code will be introduced at the beginning of the 2007-08 school year.

Board member John P. Grantham said he was not initially in favor of the dress code changes, believing that the current model was sufficient.

"A lot of it is about the principals doing their jobs and enforcing policy," he said. "If you would enforce the policy that we already have ... it would decrease discipline problems.

"I think it's sad a few people are not doing their jobs and a few other people are not following the rules. But with the 70 percent (of parents) voting for it, then I sure don't want to stand in their way."

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, said it is a big revision to the school system's policy, but one other districts are moving toward.

As for the potential cost for parents to make changes in their children's wardrobe, Ms. Sims said, "No child has come to school nude this year that I know of, so if you can buy the pants they're currently wearing, you can buy some of the clothes we're suggesting."