Schools eye new line on cloth­ing

Sunday Star - - FRONT PAGE - By CON­NIE CONNOLLY cconnolly@ches­

EAS­TON — The Tal­bot County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion is con­sid­er­ing a pol­icy change that would over­haul the dis­trict’s school dress code.

Orig­i­nally es­tab­lished 20 years ago and re­vised seven years ago, a pro­posed re­vi­sion of the pol­icy code and ad­min­is­tra­tive reg­u­la­tion (AR 10.15) was sent to sec­ond reader by the school board at its Sept. 20 meet­ing.

The pol­icy po­ten­tially could be adopted in De­cem­ber and im­ple­mented by the be­gin­ning of the sec­ond se­mes­ter in Jan­uary 2018, said Lynne Dun­can, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent for ad­min­is­tra­tive and sup­port ser­vices.

“Since fash­ion and so­cial is­sues con­tinue to change, we felt it was time to re­view our pol­icy,” Dun­can said.

A board com­mit­tee re­viewed other dis­tricts’ poli­cies and up­dates to come up with the re­vi­sion, Dun­can said.

Re­tained in the re­vised pol­icy would be the same pre­am­ble: “The Board of Ed­u­ca­tion be­lieves that stu­dent dress and groom­ing should be clean and neat and should not be dis­rup­tive to the ed­u­ca­tional process. More­over, the Board be­lieves that clear stan­dards for stu­dent dress must be es­tab­lished, com­mu­ni­cated, and en­forced uni­formly by school level (ele­men­tary or sec­ondary) as ap­pro­pri­ate.”

While the pro­posed AR is more de­tailed, wig­gle room is al­lowed for school ad­min­is­tra­tors to es­tab­lish

“col­lec­tive stan­dards within the guide­lines of this pol­icy. Ad­di­tion­ally, school ad­min­is­tra­tors may use dis­cre­tion in de­ter­min­ing whether cloth­ing is ac­cept­able so that the de­ci­sion is age ap­pro­pri­ate for their stu­dents.”

The ex­ist­ing dress code es­sen­tially is em­bed­ded in the pro­posed code, but with key ad­di­tions and dele­tions.

The cur­rent pol­icy states that stu­dents may not wear head cov­er­ings, but the pro­posed AR not only pro­hibits “hats, to­bog­gans, hoods, or other head cov­er­ings (ban­danas, wraps, etc.) and sun­glasses,” it states that they “are not to be brought into the school build­ing.” Also new is the pro­vi­sion that “head­wear is per­mit­ted only for health, safety, or re­li­gious rea­sons and must be ap­proved by the school ad­min­is­tra­tor.”

The pro­hi­bi­tion of of­fen­sive lan­guage and sym­bols is more than five times longer than the cur­rent 29-word sec­tion. Sec­tion C pro­vides the con­cep­tual lan­guage pro­hibit­ing “rude, dis­re­spect­ful, or dis­cour­te­ous ex­pres­sions which are in­con­sis­tent with civil dis­course and be­hav­ior, or which may sub­stan­tially dis­rupt or ma­te­ri­ally in­ter­fere with the ed­u­ca­tional set­ting.”

Sec­tion D de­tails the “lan­guage, brand lo­gos or sym­bols as or on at­tire that of­fend, de­mean or pro­mote ha­tred to­ward an iden­ti­fi­able per­son or group based on per­son’s race, color, re­li­gion, eth­nic­ity, na­tional ori­gin, an­ces­try, gen­der, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or dis­abil­ity” that are not per­mit­ted.

The term “age” is deleted from the pro­posed pol­icy, while the terms “eth­nic­ity” and “an­ces­try” have been added.

The pro­posed pro­hi­bi­tion also ap­plies to “body art, whether per­ma­nent or tem­po­rary. Body art which vi­o­lates th­ese two sec­tions must be com­pletely cov­ered dur­ing the tra­di­tion (sic) school day or at any dis­trict spon­sored or sanc­tioned event.”

The pro­posed dress code has a new sec­tion con­cern­ing out­er­wear that “must be re­moved upon en­ter­ing the school build­ing and stored ap­pro­pri­ately.”

“Jewelr y or ac­ces­sories that could be viewed as po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous” that are pro­hib­ited in the cur­rent pol­icy are de­scribed more ex­plic­itly to in­clude ex­am­ples like spikes, dog col­lars or other ac­ces­sories “that are deemed dan­ger­ous or may be used as a weapon, or pierc­ings that are deemed a safety hazard.”

The ex­am­ples of “un­duly re­veal­ing, ex­tremely tight fit­ting” cloth­ing “that at­tracts un­due at­ten­tion” are de­tailed, ex­panded and more gen­der-in­clu­sive in the pro­posed pol­icy. New provisions in­clude the pro­hi­bi­tion of sleep­wear, “pants or shorts that con­tain holes or slits above the mid-thigh,” and “span­dex pants, leg­gings, jeg­gings, yoga pants, and tights” with­out an “ap­pro­pri­ate dress, sweater, or top that cov­ers them to the mid-thigh.”

The pro­hi­bi­tion against flip flops is re­placed by “shoes must be worn at all times” in the pro­posed dress code.

The pro­posed AR con­tains a new sec­tion that spells out the dis­ci­plinar y ac­tion that may re­sult from a dress code in­frac­tion. Stu­dents will be “re­quired to ob­tain suit­able cloth­ing” but may not “leave cam­pus to change cloth­ing.”

“Any stu­dent wear­ing cloth­ing that is deemed by the school ad­min­is­tra­tor to be in­ap­pro­pri­ate or dis­rup­tive to the learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment will be asked to change or cover up ob­jec­tion­able cloth­ing. Par­ents/ Guardians will be called to pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate cloth­ing to the stu­dent,” the pro­posed pol­icy states.

As­sis­tant Su­per­in­ten­dent for In­struc­tion Helga Ein­horn will present the pro­posed pol­icy re­vi­sion to the dis­trict’s Com­mu­nity Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee for its in­put and rec­om­men­da­tions, which then will be shared with board, Dun­can said.

To read the en­tire pol­icy, go to, click on the Board of Ed tab and then “Bd Meet­ing Agen­das, Min­utes & Video.” Open the Sept. 20 Agenda and click the link for the pol­icy un­der “New Busi­ness.”


The screen­shot above shows ex­am­ples of mid-thigh length at­tire that il­lus­trates the pro­posed Tal­bot County Pub­lic Schools dress code re­vi­sion.

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