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Updated dress code awaits Washington County students

July 24, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Yoga pants are in. So are leggings, if worn with an appropriate dress, skirt or pants.

Girls can wear tank tops that cover undergarments and cleavage, but Washington County Public Schools students still cannot wear muscle shirts without also wearing another shirt.

If classrooms get chilly this winter, students may wear light jackets in class.

Some of the changes for what types of clothing are or aren’t appropriate for students are new, but a lot of the issues addressed in the updated dress code formalize things that were already happening in schools, but were not reflected in the formal dress code that was last changed 10 years ago.

That was one of the points Amanda Krehbiel, last school year’s student representative on the Board of Education, and other students made last year as Krehbiel led the student charge to update the dress code.

Under the old dress code, coats couldn’t be worn inside school during school hours, but students would put on jackets when it got chilly inside, Krehbiel has said.

Other details, such as the appropriate length of shirts and shorts, have been clarified.

The old policy called for shorts, skirts and dresses to “cover the mid-thigh when sitting down, or be at least long enough to meet the tip of the student’s longest finger when the student is standing with arms down at the sides.”

The new dress code states shorts, skirts and dresses must cover all undergarments, whether the student is sitting or standing. They also must be modest and shorts must hang at or near mid-thigh when students are standing.

After Krehbiel pitched dress code changes to the School Board in April, the board changed its policy, but removed the meat of it — the detailed descriptions of what’s appropriate and inappropriate. Instead, the board charged Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox with incorporating such details in a regulation.

Krehbiel said everything she asked for, and a little more, is in the regulation Wilcox issued.

The new dress code regulation will be in the student handbook for the new school year, school system spokesman Richard Wright said. The handbook is to be posted online at http://www.wcps.k12.md.us/parents_community on Aug. 1 and hard copies will be distributed when school starts, he said.

Also addressed in the new dress code regulation is temporary or permanent body art.



Body art

The regulation calls for certain body art to be covered during the school day and at any events sponsored or sanctioned by the school system. Body art affected by the regulation is any that shows reference or inference to profanity; drugs, alcohol, or tobacco; violence; suggestive, sexual messages; or language or symbols that offend, demean or promote hatred toward an identifiable person or group.

Wright said body art refers mainly to permanent or temporary tattoos. But the description of what’s inappropriate also could be applied to messages shaved in hair, he said.

South Hagerstown High Basketball Coach Kevin Naylor said he could imagine a number of ways to cover up inappropriate tattoos for basketball players, but he didn’t think there would be a need.

Naylor said most of the body art he sees are tributes to deceased parents or grandparents; dollar signs; or “gibberish” or “nonsense.”

Krehbiel said addressing tattoos is a “valid point” because the school system doesn’t allow students to wear T-shirts with profane or otherwise inappropriate messages.

“It’s the same way on your body,” she said.

The same restrictions on body art apply to words or symbols on clothing, with the dress code regulations stating such messages are prohibited on apparel worn to school settings.

First-time offenders of the dress code regulations will be required to adjust or change their clothes and review the student handbook with a school administrator.

Secondary violations can lead to further discipline procedures.

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