As preparations begin for a new school year, students in several cities across the country will find themselves with fewer clothing and in some cases accessory choices each morning.
A 14-year-old girl presented Corpus Christi school board members last week with a 2,000-name petition protesting a new dress code of khaki pants, polo shirts in white or school colors and closed-toe shoes.
Elissa Garza, a Carroll High School student, said the Corpus Christi school board made the decision too quickly and did not get student input.
The board in June unanimously approved the new dress code, which calls for closed-toe shoes with a back strap. Among the prohibited attire are baggy pants below the waist and shirts that are low-cut, too short or have spaghetti straps. Dyed hair also is banned.
The rules take effect the first day of school.
Despite the petition, the school board says, it will stick by the new rules.
Superintendent Jesus H. Chavez said the district was too lax with the dress code and that he had seen high-schoolers whose underwear was showing above their pants.
Garza said enforcing the new code would take up a considerable amount of time.
"Teachers are going to spend 20 minutes every morning writing people up," the teen said in the July 26 edition of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. "They should stop trying to worry about the dress code and worry about the drug problem in our schools."
Garza said students readily signed the petition and that she planned to distribute fliers and display small banners on her pencils when school starts Aug. 12.
School board president Larry Elizondo said parents had raised the issue.
”I know students want to express their individuality through their clothing, but ... the school grounds is not the place," Elizondo said.
A new dress code for Richmond County students lacks teeth, gold teeth to be exact.
The Richmond County Board of Education on July 27 unanimously passed the code to ban gold teeth, large belts and clothing that appears to be gang-related. Gang hand signals, symbols, uniforms and meetings were also prohibited.
Before the vote, Trustee Kenneth Echols said he was concerned about banning items worn mostly by black students.
"If the gangs have them, I have a problem with it," Echols said. "But I think we're kind of basically zeroing in on black children. White children do it too, but mostly black children."
But board member Andrew Jefferson defended the proposal.
"The problem is not only with black kids, but you have a lot of copy cats on fashion and style based on some of the music videos and so forth," said Andrew Jefferson, a Richmond County school board member. "You have the Eminem look and the Vanilla Ice look. Basically, it is a total distraction."
As Jefferson pointed out, though, blacks aren't the only ones wearing the metallic caps on their teeth, also called grills, in Richmond County classrooms.
Jeff Padgett, the school board president, put the group's decision in plain terms.
"I think we have to decide that it's about grades and not grills. It's about tests and not teeth," Padgett said.
Administrators at Springfield High School have proposed a dress code that would ban bare midriffs, cut down on offensive language on T-shirts and regulate skirt lengths and prohibit pants that drop below hip level.
Changes to the dress code at have gone out to parents, with additions and revisions aimed at reducing the prospect of improperly dressed students.
Assistant Principal Brian Hoover has worked with members of the student council and teachers in developing the changes.
"We have rules in school," Principal Rod Tulonen said. "We try to make them fair. And more than 90 percent of kids in school follow the rules. I don't think (there will) be much difficulty at all."
The dress code changes include:
- Shirts cannot show any cleavage and should be long enough to cover the navel.
- Muscle shirts with oversized arm holes cannot be worn.
- Shorts should have an inseam at least three inches long and skirts should be within six inches of the top of the knee.
Tulonen remembers the 1960s when miniskirts were all the range.
"I saw principals measure with rulers," he said. "I don't want to get into that."
The dress code also says undergarments such as underwear and bras cannot be showing. No strapless or off-the-shoulder shirts will be permitted and pants will be worn no lower than the point of the hip.
Clothes also cannot depict, promote or imply alcohol, drugs or tobacco, sexual references of any kind or offensive language.
Under the dress code, a teacher or faculty member has the right to send students out of the room if they feel the student's dress is affecting the educational environment.
Students would be sent to Hoover, who would make the final determination. If students are deemed to be in violation of the dress code, they can call home or be sent home to change, borrow a school T-shirt or ask friends for help.