Sunday, May 11, 2008

Another Utah Middle School To Tighten Its Student Dress Code: South Cache 8-9 Center Proposes Banning Jeans And "Inflammatory" Shirts

Update: Parents voted almost two-to-one to reject the proposed changes to the dress code. Story published in the Logan Herald-Journal on May 13th.

The Deseret News reports that another Utah middle school is contemplating changes in its student dress code to make it more restrictive and to create a more professional atmosphere and prevent the type of rubbish you see above left. Parents of students at the South Cache 8-9 Center are being asked to vote on a dress-code policy. About 1,600 ballots were mailed to parents of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders on May 3rd, and the ballots were to be back at the school by Friday May 9th (originally reported as May 16th - my bad).

The proposed changes to the dress code would ban jeans, baggy clothes, large logos on clothing, and limited shirt choices to collared shirts in navy blue, white, khaki, gray and orange.

School officials say 70 percent of parents must favor the policy for it to be adopted. The policy would go into effect when school starts in the fall.

Current dress standards are not grouped together in a stand-alone paragraph, but are listed in the Student Handbook under the paragraph heading "Items Not Acceptable At School", Unacceptable clothing items are listed as follows:

- Clothing advertising drugs, alcohol or which display inappropriate language or designs, including clothing denoting gang affiliations.
- Hats or bandannas.
- Revealing or distracting clothing.

On May 7th, the Logan Herald-Journal reported a minor controversy associated with the ballots. At least a few parents think the ballot is unclear. “The way it is stated has confused parents on both sides of the issue,” said Alean Hunt, whose son will attend South Cache next year. “There is no place on the ballot that says when it is due back and where it should be returned.”

Principal Teri Cutler said the information about what to do with the ballot after voting was left off because there was no room on the card. Instead, the school used an auto-dialer to call all the parents who received ballots and play a message telling them to return the ballot to the school by Friday May 16th at 1:45 p.m. The auto-dialer message was run once early this week and will be played once more.

Commentary: Their existing dress code, unlike the one enforced at Dixon Middle School in Provo, seems a bit murky and non-specific. The proposed changes will provide better definition.

However, banning jeans may not fly. Dixon Middle School officials originally proposed a similar ban, but found it necessary to backtrack in order to implement the other changes, as too many parents objected to banning jeans. And Provo is probably more conservative than Logan. So don't be surprised if this change fails, attracting only 50-60 percent of an affirmative vote.

But the fact that folks in Logan are revisiting their school's dress codes indicates that parents nationwide are becoming fed up with the way kids are dressing. And there's good reason. In Memphis, Tennessee, unsupervised kids at the mostly-black Mitchell High School staged a dance entitled "Rape Dat Ho". The accompanying news video showed numerous students dressed like thugs and engaging in simulated sex, while adult staff members walked by and took no action. The black principal originally tried to sweep it under the rug, but a tenacious local media finally forced him to acknowledge the problem and initiate corrective action. Here's a YouTube video of the media report:

Upgrading dress codes will nip this type of problem in the bud.

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