Dress Code: Fair or Not

Many students walking into the school are violating the dress code, some are aware, some not so much. As many as there are in violation, very few are called out and punished for this.

Each teacher has his or her own interpretation of what the dress code is and what should be enforced which leads to much confusion among students and even parents. Although the student handbook discusses dress code, there is a large number of students and even teachers who are unfamiliar with the regulations. The real problem lies within the handbook.

The school handbook does outline some do’s and don’ts of the dress code, however, there are aspects that are fairly vague such as the constant use of the phrase, “which disrupts the educational process of the classroom,” which is where the inconsistencies start. Such a vague phrase leaves too much room for a teacher, staff member, or the principal to place enforcement on a dress code based on his or her own personal preferences, biases, or as previously stated, interpretation. The school should have a consistent set of rules that are easily able to be interpreted and fairly enforced within the school. A rule within the school has to be applied to all or none of the students, just as a law has to have the same consistency with the population under that law. Apply this to all students or none at all. This the only way to remain fair to everyone in the school.

Students are not going to follow rules that aren’t consistently enforced. I understand that the school can’t punish all the students at one time or interrupt multiple classes for that purpose, nor do I think you should. However, you also can’t target a small number of students who get into trouble while the rest are going through the day getting off free.

There are many ways to fix this issue. The one I find to be the most effective consists of a couple fairly simple steps. The first thing that needs to be done is eliminate any sort of vague phrases from the dress code. It needs to be very specific so that anyone can pick it up and clearly understand what is and isn’t acceptable to wear within the school. The next thing is to make sure that all faculty and staff are familiar with these regulations. At the beginning of the school year, it is stressed that all students read through the handbook and learn what rules to follow before they walk into the school. The problem is that some of the teachers I have talked to about the dress code have not read the handbook or have based what they enforce on what other teachers have told them and not their own knowledge of the handbook. This would allow them to enforce the rules without any issues of consistency with what should be required for the students to follow. Students, teachers, and faculty will be happier when these changes are made and the dress code is no longer an issue.