The Lincoln County School District No. 2 Board of Trustees has passed a revised student dress and appearance policy. The action took place during the Tuesday, Aug. 2 meeting of the school board. The motion to adopt the policy was made by Wade Hirschi and seconded by Lane Allred. Votes in favor of the measure were cast by Alan Linford, Connie Day, Eileen Merritt, Karen Tallerico, Lane Allred and Wade Hirschi. Donna Ivie opposed the measure.
Under the new policy, the school district provides general guidelines regarding student dress and appearance standards. Each school within the district will “use stakeholder input to define their own procedures” in relation to student dress and appearance. Under the new district policy, schools must meet the basic district dress code guidelines. However, they can adopt a school dress code procedure that is unique to their school.
The district guidelines as outlined in Policy JICA- Student Dress and Appearance are as follows.
• Clothing appearance or personal hygiene and grooming practices that draw an inordinate amount of attention to the individual student is considered inappropriate for school. The dress and or grooming style of any student must not interfere with the educational process or safety of self or other students.
• Students are not to wear clothing that reveals the body in an inappropriate manner as defined in each building’s dress code procedure.
• Heavy coats are to be left in a locker. Trench coats are not allowed.
• Students are not to wear excessive jewelry, ornaments, or accessories, which distract from the learning environment or could be used as an instrument to cause harm to self or others.
• T-shirts, tattoos, or any type of clothing or personal items bearing a reference to alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, drugs, drug related slogans and any other wording, drawing, pictures, symbols, etc., which in any way can be interpreted as suggestive, obscene, offensive or depicting violence are not permitted.
• Undergarments should be worn in an appropriate manner and should not be visible.
• Pants must be worn at the waist and not allowed to sag.
• Students are required to wear appropriate and safe footwear at all times.
“The above guidelines are minimal requirements for schools established by the district,” the policy states. “School administrators, in consultation with faculty, parents, and students may establish more guidelines as needed for their schools.” According to School Board Chairman Merritt, the new policy “puts responsibility on administrators and teachers.” “This is what our administrators and teachers have been asking for and we as a board are putting out trust in them,” Merritt said. “Lincoln County School District No. 2 is known throughout the state for well dressed, well behaved students. With this new policy we keep that higher level of standard and expectation while allowing our schools and administrators an opportunity to step up.”
According to Trustee Day, changing and updating policies to reflect what is happening in society is not a bad thing. “We have changed the way we do things over the years,” Day said. “If we had never changed the dress code then girls would still be required to wear dresses to school, like we did when I was a student. So change is not bad. I think as long as we continue to revisit this and see how well this is working in our district then we are moving in the right direction.”
According to Trustee Hirschi, allowing school to establish their own dress code procedures, while meeting the general district student dress and appearance standards, creates better buy-in. “Things are easier to enforce when you have that level of buy-in,” he said.
Trustee Ivie stated that she opposed the policy changes because she wants the district to maintain its high standards and not allow some of the more extreme styles of clothing, hair, body art and piercings. She feels that while the new policy does not allow such things, it perhaps opens a door. “I appreciate the work that has gone into this and recognize those efforts,” she said. “We’ve had some good discussion and I can seen the consensus. But I just do not agree.”
The school board made the decision to revisit and review how the new district policy and respective school procedures relating to student dress and appearance are working in the coming months. Dress code discussion is scheduled to be part of the school board meetings in December and April. Individual school procedures, as well as the district policy, relating to dress code can be found on the school district’s website.