Schools eye new line on clothing
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 www.tcps.k12.md.us, 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.