N.J. school loosens dress code

By The Associated Press

EDISON, N.J. — A high school's dress code has been altered to give students the opportunity to express their beliefs, as long as what they wear is not lewd or obscene and does not interfere with learning.

Officials at J.P. Stevens High School in Edison made the change after they received a complaint from Shaun Chichester, who was asked to remove a "Whaq Iraq" T-shirt he wore to school on March 21. Chichester complied with the request, but said it violated his right to free speech.

In a statement issued on Oct. 23, school officials said that even though shirts like the one Chichester wore may cause controversy in a diverse district such as Edison, students have the right to wear clothing "that doesn't threaten to disrupt the educational process."

Gerald Walpin, a New York City-based lawyer who represented Chichester, said the policy change has already taken effect.

Chichester, now a junior, declined to comment on the decision, but Walpin said he would have sued if school officials had not amended the dress code.