Students mostly prevail on dress code issue


Last updated 8/30/2023 at 11:05am

ASB representatives presenting the school board Aug. 14 with an alternative dress code, then admitting only one of them was meeting the current code. - Scott Hunter photo

Students racked up a policy victory at Lake Roosevelt Jr/Sr High School Monday when the school district board of directors voted to implement most of their recommended changes to the dress code, one evening before school began.

A group of Associated Student Body officers and representatives had presented their ideas to the board Aug. 14 using a sneaky tactic: they looked and acted exactly like typical high school students, then admitted that only one of the eight of them was meeting the current code at that moment.

"We believe this dress code has been to difficult to abide by," ASB President Raeley Portch said.

Vice President Carly Neddo said its terms are vague and subject to bias. She said students want a dress code that is "equitable and that is not subject to body shaming," pointing out that she was wearing the same style shirt as another representive that fits each of them differently. She said students feel discriminated against because of the code, which takes a toll on their mental and physical health.

Students can be "dress coded" or sent home, they said, for wearing clothes as short as the cheerleaders' uniform skirts, which they are required to wear on game days.

The students proposed a similar dress code, keeping many but changing some of the 15 bullit points from the official one.

They left off points banning skin-tight clothing, slippers or soft-soled shoes, shirts that expose the midriff, and tank tops.

They added that no undergarments should be showing, shirts must have straps, no private parts may show. required at least a three-inch inseam for pants is required. And they limited midriff exposure to a maximum of 1.5 inches.

The students got praise from the board for presenting their concerns.

At the board meeting Monday, Principal Natalie Kontos clarified that no one was sent home for a dress-code violation last year; students can get a change from their locker or a friend or the nurse. The current policy just sets the kind of standard the students will have to meet later in work life, she said.

Board President Rich Black said the current policy should work well but also admitted he was "old fashioned."

Director Alex Tufts pointed out that the students who didn't meet the code at the last meeting were in no way shocking, even to Black.

But the board's own student representative, Layla Flett, offered observations that seemed to turn the tide.

Flett said she'd never seen a boy "dress coded," even those not wearing a shirt. It's not fair, she said.

"Not only is it targeting women, it's targeting women of different sizes." she added, noting she'd seen differences that seemed to be generated simply by teacher preference.

The board voted to pass the student-recommended policies, except that no midriff will be allowed to show with arms slightly raised.

The board also tabled again a proposed change to an athletic policy that would clarify that a three-violation record that would get a high school athlete kicked off a team for good would also apply to eighth graders in high school sports, as some are at Lake Roosevelt.

Parents testified against it for the second meeting in a row. The board thought it needed more work.


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