why do schools have a dress code

Clothing as a primary means for expressing ideas for students is as primitive as clothing itself, yet schools across the country often grapple with whether to enforce strict dress code policies that may interfere with a studentsв right to self-expression. While school boards are generally allowed to create and enforce dress code programs within their districts, they must do so without violating the constitutional rights of students. School Dress Code Laws The first school dress code law was established in 1969 by the U. S. Supreme Court. The case, known as, involved several high school students who wore black armbands to school in a planned protest against the Vietnam War. In a far-reaching decision, the Court essentially decided that schools may limit student expression (such as enforcing dress codes) if there is a legitimate concern that such expression will be disruptive to the learning environment or violate the rights of others. Today, most states have laws that allow school boards to make dress code rules for students within their district to promote a safe, disciplined school environment, prevent interference with schoolwork and discipline, and to encourage uniformity of student dress. For instance, dress codes that prohibit clothing that is vulgar, obscene or worn in a manner that disrupts school activity are generally permitted в whereas dress codes that censor student expression because educators do not like the message are generally not permitted. Dress Code Policies vs. Freedom of Speech
Not all speech is protected in a school setting. For example, students who wear clothing that follows the latest fashion trend в such as oversized shirts and slouchy jeans for boys, or short skirts and mid-drift cut-out shirts on girls в or clothing that supports a particular sports team, religion, or political point of view, may be prohibited in dress code policies if the studentвs choice in clothing draws attention away from the schoolвs learning environment.


Therefore, limits on dress codes have including the following: Limits on вgang-relatedв clothing, sometimes described as over-sized clothing and other clothing meant to show affiliation with a certain gang or group, such as certain colors, logos, brand names, or arrangement Ban on suggestively-themed T-shirts, such as Marilyn Manson t-shirts Limits on skirt, shirt, and pant length Ban on clothing that depicts lewd, sexually explicit, or idecent drug use Seasonal closthing restriction, such as limits on midriffs and lower backs not being exposed in hot weather Freedom of Religion Issues In contrast to limits on dress as a means to providing a safe learning environment, school dress codes, in most cases, cannot be used to prevent students from expressing their religion beliefs. Both the Constitution and most state laws protect studentsв rights to wear religious attire inool school, such as the wearing of a turban, yarmulke, or head scarf. What Schools Can Do Generally, schools have the right to create rules that provide an effective public school education for its students. Both students and staff of primary, elementary, junior and senior high school campuses have the right to be safe and secure in their persons. This means that school may include in their dress codes methods which further the goals of a learning institution and that prevents violent or abusive behavior. What You Can Do Students and parents should obtain a copy of your schoolвs dress code policy to get an understanding of what may or may not be acceptable clothing at school.


For questions concerning whether the policy infringes on your constitutional rights, you may wish to consult with an education attorney in your area who can advise you of the laws in your state. The Polk County School Board has a mandatory dress code for all elementary and middle school students. There are many positive reasons for a school dress code, including: A dress code encourages students to express their individuality through personality and academic achievements, not outward appearances A dress code puts the focus on academics, not fashion, because they project a neat, serious, businesslike image Dress codes eliminate pressure to wear brand name clothing, gang colors, etc. Bottoms: Navy, Black or Khaki/Tan Walking Shorts, Slacks, Skorts, Skirts, Skirted jumpers Must be plain, solid-color Twill, Corduroy or Denim fabric Tops: White or navy with collar Knit polo-type, Oxford or woven dress shirts, blouses, turtlenecks Every school may add another collared shirt color. Call schools for school colors. The Dress Code does not allow for clothing with colored trim, stripes, embroidery, decoration, etc. It also does not provide for overalls (overalls with pants or shorts), sweat pants, knit pants/ skirts, leggings, etc. A small logo is acceptable. Other dress code rules: A belt is required if the garment has belt loops. Shirts (including t-shirts) must be tucked in. Shorts/skirts must be mid-thigh or longer. Shoes must be safe and appropriate. Clothes must be appropriate size, with waist of garment worn at student's waist. Clothing that is too tight or too loose is not appropriate for school. School administrators will determine if clothing is appropriate for school and complies with district rules. For more specific information on the student dress code, please refer to the Code of Student Conduct.


Jackets, sweaters, coats, etc. May not be disruptive, distracting, display offensive language/symbols, etc. Any pullover garment that is worn all day (sweater, sweater vest, sweatshirt) should: Must be solid white, solid navy or the schoolвs additional solid shirt color On very cold days, students who walk, bike, etc. may need to wear sweatpants, etc. over their school clothes on their way to/from school. However, any clothing that doesnвt meet dress code requirements must be removed before school begins. Bottoms: Navy, Black or Khaki/Tan Walking Shorts, Slacks, Skorts, Skirts, Skirted jumpers Must be plain, solid-color Twill, Corduroy or Denim fabric Tops: White or navy with collar Knit polo-type, Oxford or woven dress shirts, blouses, turtlenecks Every school may add another collared shirt color. Call schools for school colors. The Dress Code does not allow for clothing with colored trim, stripes, embroidery, decoration, etc. It also does not provide for overalls (overalls with pants or shorts), sweat pants, knit pants/ skirts, leggings, etc. A small logo is acceptable. Other dress code rules: A belt is required if the garment has belt loops. Shirts (including t-shirts) must be tucked in. Shorts/skirts must be mid-thigh or longer. Shoes must be safe and appropriate. Clothes must be appropriate size, with waist of garment worn at student's waist. Clothing that is too tight or too loose is not appropriate for school. School administrators will determine if clothing is appropriate for school and complies with district rules. For more specific information on the student dress code, please refer to the Code of Student Conduct. **Polk County Public Schools Student Code of Conduct, Section 2. 06

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