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Student rep helps change Washington County Public Schools dress code

Board of Education takes steps to allow dress code to change, and perhaps be updated more often as fashion trends change

April 03, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Amanda Krehbiel, student representative to the Washington County Board of Education, gives a presentation to the board Tuesday about the revised student dress code policy. In a vote 5 to 1 the board approved the first reading of the amended student dress code policy.
Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Washington County Public Schools’ almost 10-year-old student dress code will get revamped thanks to student efforts led by the school board’s student representative, Amanda Krehbiel.

While the Board of Education didn’t approve a first reading of Krehbiel’s proposed dress code changes during Tuesday’s meeting, it did take steps to allow the dress code to change, and perhaps be updated more often as fashion trends change.

The board unanimously approved an amendment proposed by board member Wayne D. Ridenour that removes specifics about clothing from the policy and charges the superintendent or his designee to develop dress-code regulations in consultation with student representatives.

How specific those regulations are will be up to the superintendent and the students, Ridenour said in an interview after the meeting. How many of the recommendations that Krehbiel presented will make it into the regulation is to be determined, he said.

Changes to the dress code definitely could occur in time for the new school year, Ridenour said.

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Ridenour said he had no problems with Krehbiel’s proposed changes, which have been reviewed multiple times by the board’s Policy Committee. He applauded Krehbiel’s efforts and those of the committee.

That the policy hadn’t been updated in 10 years “speaks very clearly to me that it is difficult to change policy, and particularly a policy that doesn’t seem to be in some instances that important, yet to the students and those individuals that are most impacted by it, it is important,” Ridenour told his colleagues.

The policy doesn’t take into consideration fashion trends, which Ridenour said he thinks change almost daily.

By putting attire rules in a regulation, rather than the policy itself, they can be updated quicker, Ridenour said.

After the meeting, Krehbiel said she was aware Ridenour’s amendment would be proposed.

Krehbiel, 17, a senior at North Hagerstown High School, said putting the attire rules into a regulation was a good idea “because fashion changes so quickly.”

Krehbiel said she thought students would be happy with the decision.

The dress code recommendations Krehbiel proposed were devised by about 65 middle and high school students during Washington County Association of Student Councils meetings last November, she has said.

The students’ recommendations addressed head coverings, sleeveless tops, yoga pants, leggings, wearing jackets during the school day, and the length of skirts and shorts.

The board voted 5-1, with board member Melissa Williams absent from the room during the vote, to approve the first reading of the amended dress code policy. Krehbiel rose her hand to concur with the board’s approval of the amended policy.

Board member Karen Harshman voted for the amendment, but against the dress code policy because she said she didn’t want the dress code to be approved without stating students cannot wear pajama bottoms to school.

“It sends the wrong message. School is for studying ...” Harshman said Wednesday in a phone interview.

The board still has to vote whether to approve a second reading of the amended policy.

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