In an attempt to maintain the integrity of the learning environment in Emery County secondary schools, principals at Emery High School, Green River High School, Canyon View Junior High School and San Rafael Junior High School are calling on students and parents to know the dress codes of their respective schools and to make sure that such codes are followed as school gets underway this month.
"We want to get the word out now about our dress codes as students and parents start their school shopping," Larry Davis, Canyon View principal, said following that school's recent school improvement meeting. "When school starts in the fall, we don't want any excuses for not meeting our dress codes."
Throughout the 2004-05 school year, Principal Davis joined principals Nolan Johnson of Green River High, Gwen Callahan of Emery High, Garth Johnson of San Rafael and Emery District secondary curriculum supervisor JJ Grant in a dialogue involving dress codes. One of the goals stemming from the discussion was to standardize dress codes so that junior high students entering high school would already have a thorough understanding of what is and is not acceptable attire.
While the schools still maintain their own unique dress-code wording in various policy manuals, each policy is generally the same, and notes that:
Students are not allowed to wear hats, headbands, bandanas, etc.
Students are not allowed to wear sleeveless tops. All tops must have a sleeve that extends from the shoulder down the arm.
Students must wear tops that meet or extend beyond the top of the pants so that no skin or underwear shows.
All underwear should be covered by outer garments.
All clothing must fit and be worn properly. Pants need to be belted at the waist and not sagging below the waistline.
Clothing and general appearance must not be extreme in fashion.
Clothing must not include any unlawful or objectionable ads, sayings or artwork, including anything related to objectionable language, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and sexual innuendo.
Shorts are okay but must be modest in length.
"We are by no means attempting to take away a student's right to individuality," said Mr. Davis. "Rather, we are attempting to maintain an environment free of obtrusive and objectionable pop culture that has no place in our schools. Students still have a wide range of choices when it comes to what they wear to school."
The school administrators note that it is also important for students to wear clean clothing while avoiding clothing that is excessively worn, ragged and frayed. "We don't include every possible objectionable style and garment in our dress codes," said Mr. Davis, "but we expect students and parents to use common sense in what is being worn to school. We don't want to turn our schools into rock concerts and mosh pits. We have to maintain an environment that is conducive to academics, and as we have learned in recent years, what kids wear to school does make a difference in how well they learn."
Each principal agrees that a great deal of their time in the schools involves administering the dress code. This takes them as well as students away from academic pursuits. "When we have to deal with students violating our dress codes, the students are often taken from class, sent home to change clothes, and disciplined in other ways. This represents time away from learning," said Mr. Davis. "I think we're trying to be proactive on an administrative level and get the word out early so as to avoid these problems later."
The dress codes of each school are not simply the products of each school's principal. As part of the policy manual, the dress codes are developed by the school's faculty and in many cases the school's community council. Policy manuals are then approved by the Emery County Board of Education.