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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Draft school attire policy issued

Friday, October 19, 2007

Zack Beavers, a student at Cleveland High School, was dressed according to that school's SSA policies last spring when a Bedford County delegation made a site visit. Beavers is wearing solid-colored pants, not jeans, and a solid-colored, collared shirt, tucked in.
(T-G file photo by John I. Carney)
Bedford County Board of Education has taken the first steps towards adopting Standardized School Attire, by releasing a draft policy which will serve as a basis of debate and discussion between now and February, when the board hopes to adopt a final policy.

The policy would take effect for the 2008-2009 school year.

The draft SSA policy which the school board agreed Thursday night to use as its starting point is based closely on the policy Metro Nashville Public Schools began using this year. It will be presented to the public between now and February at forums like PTO and civic club meetings. The school board will hold its own November, December and January meetings at various area schools in order to encourage interested parents to attend.

The issue is sure to attract debate. Proponents of SSA say it's good for security and leads to a calmer, more productive school atmosphere, not to mention preparing students for work environments where professional dress is expected. Opponents say the benefits are anecdotal and that the rules limit students' free expression.

Opponents say parents would be unfairly forced to buy new clothing for their children, while proponents say clothing that meets SSA requirements can be found inexpensively and may actually save money compared to the clothes teens wear to impress each other.

All of those arguments, on both sides, are likely to be heard as the policy is discussed in the coming months.

Here are highlights of the proposed SSA policy, which is still a draft and may be revised based on public input between now and February:

• It would apply to all ages of students. The policy would not specifically apply to teachers or other school employees, although teachers would be encouraged to dress professionally in order to set an example for student compliance.

• Students would have to wear navy blue, black or khaki-colored pants, shorts, capri pants, skirts, skorts or jumpers. No blue jeans would be allowed.

• Students would have to wear solid-colored shirts with collars " which could include polo, button-down or turtleneck styles. White or navy blue shirts would be allowed anywhere in the school system, but each school would be able to designate additional colors, which would normally include that school's official school colors. The only variable which has been left blank in the draft policy is how many additional colors each school would be allowed. Nashville allows four additional colors per school.

• Students would have to wear clothing "of appropriate size,? meaning no more than one size smaller or larger than the student's actual clothing size. Pants or skirts must fit at the waist and not sag.

• Shirts must be tucked in to pants or skirts.

• No logos or trademarks larger than two inches square will be allowed on clothing. School logos or mascots are permitted.

• Belts would be required if the pants or skirt feature belt loops. Pants or skirts with elastic waistbands and no belt loops could be worn at the waist without a belt.

• The only outerwear which could be worn to class would be blazers, suit jackets, vests, sweaters or cardigans. They would have the same color restrictions that apply to shirts or blouses and would have to be worn over an approved shirt.

• Each school would be allowed up to 10 days a year to waive all or part of the dress code for special events, such as school spirit week or homecoming. In addition, principals could authorize occasional variations for special groups of students, such as allowing athletes to wear jerseys over their shirts on game day or allowing clubs to wear club-related or school-related T-shirts over their approved SSA shirt.

• Jeans, torn or see-through clothing would be prohibited.

• The school system would coordinate with schools, businesses, religious and community organizations to collect donated SSA-compliant clothing. This clothing could be given to needy families and / or kept at schools to be loaned out in case of SSA violations.

• Families could request exceptions to SSA rules for religious, medical or disability reasons.

On their first offense, students who violate SSA would be allowed to correct the situation and return to class. Correction could include changing into clothes loaned by the school as noted above.

On the second offense, students who violate SSA would be subject to a day of in-school suspension.

On the third offense, students would have a day of in-school suspension plus an overnight or provisional suspension, although the overnight / provisional suspension could be waived if parents agree to a meet with a school administrator to discuss the problem.

Repeated offenses beyond three would be treated as disruptive behavior and defiance of school authority and treated under the existing disciplinary rules.

School Superintendent Ed Gray said that Nashville's policy has relatively few published exceptions but allows school administrators to take a common-sense approach to specific situations, such as an obese student who has difficulty keeping his shirt tucked in. He compared that to Wilson County's policy, which he said lists page after page of exceptions.

School board members will seek to discuss the policy in forums like civic club meetings and to solicit input from their constituents.

The school board members are Dixie Parker, District 1; Ron Adcock, District 2; Amy Martin, District 3; Diane Neeley, District 4; Barry Cooper, chairman, District 5; Mary Jo Johnson, District 6; Jerry Naron, District 7; Leonard Singleton, District 8; and Glen Forsee, District 9. The school system central offices can be reached at 684-3284 for more information.