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Teachers asked to dress appropriately

July 25, 2005|by TONY BUDNY

anthonyb@herald-mail.com

Teachers don't have much of a problem with dressing professionally, school officials from around the Tri-State area said.

Ellen Hayes, supervisor of human resources and teacher staffing with the Washington County Board of Education, said that system policy requires Washington County teachers to follow the student dress code, which bans any sort of decorative headwear, including sunglasses. This does not include anything "used to hold hair in place and does not cover the entire head." Shirts must "cover the entire back and shoulders ... the midriff area, not be see-through," and cover cleavage and undergarments.

"This is a systemwide policy that applies to everyone who works for the system. We want all of our adults to be role models. Dress sets the tone for education," Hayes said.

Hayes added that there are circumstances when the policy would not apply. These include some gym teachers wearing gym shorts, casual days and religious affiliations requiring a certain type of dress.

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"We like adults to wear whatever is appropriate for a given activity, and always be in good taste," she said.

Kathy Styles, principal of Bester Elementary school, agrees with the dress code.

"Students respect teachers and themselves more when both sides are dressed appropriately, even in elementary school," she said.

While lack of air conditioning in some schools leads to the need for cooler, more casual attire, students and teachers can wear appropriate- length clothing and still be cool, she said.

Kathy Kelsey, principal of Winter Street Elementary School, said substitute teachers are not required to follow the dress code in Washington County. The Board of Education is working on changing that policy, she said. She once had a teacher sent home because she had a shirt that "showed too much belly and back."

Cathy Dusman, director of human resources for the Chambersburg (Pa.) Area School District, said the district does not have a set dress code policy for teachers.

"When we hire a new employee, we give them a description of expectations and one of the items discussed is professional dress, but we do not have an overall policy. We've never had any major problems and we're truly very pleased with the professionalism across the board. If we have a concern, we address it individually," she said.

The Berkeley County (W.Va.) schools system is in the process of writing an employee handbook that includes a general dress code requirement, said Jaimee Borger, director of media relations for Berkeley County Schools.

"All employees should dress appropriately to be able to finish their work, meet health requirements and not disrupt daily activities," she said.

This is not a formal dress code policy, but its general guidelines, she said. Each facility has its own specific policy. For example, some schools might have a "no-jeans" policy, Borger said.

Berkeley County schools haven't had any problems with teachers, but if they do, it would be dealt with by the particular school where it occurs, she said.

"Our teachers are all professionals. They know what is expected of them and their students follow the benchmarks the teachers set," Borger said.

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