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Pro: Students need firm consequences for their dress code violations

By Carolina Astrain
May 18, 2014 at 12:18 a.m.


THE RULES

The dress code requirements for Victoria school district high school and middle school students are as follows:

•  Only sleeved, buttoned, collared solid color shirts are allowed. All buttons must be buttoned with the exception of the collar button.

•  All shirts/blouses and undershirts must be tucked in; allowing waist area to be visible.

•  Solid colored, collared and/or crew neck sweaters are allowed. Scooped or V-neck sweaters must have a collared or crew neck shirt underneath them.

• Logos/trademarks may not be larger than two (2) inches.

•  School spirit shirts within your learning community (East/West) that are approved by the campus

administrator, including T-shirts, are allowed.

•  Heavy sweaters and other tops with elasticized waistbands, such as sweatshirts, may be worn untucked but can be no longer than the bottom of a back pocket on the pants or skirt. If the length of the sweater or other tops with elastized waistbands exceeds the required length limit, the student will be required to tuck in the article of clothing that is in violation.

• Outerwear, defined as anything worn over the standardized dress, such as, but not limited to hoodies, jackets and coats may contain logos/trademarks no larger than two (2) inches. No graphics other than school logos or graphics are allowed. Outerwear shall be solid colors. Trench coats and any other outerwear deemed by administration to be a distraction or potential safety hazard will not be permitted.

•  Former letter jackets from Memorial High School are allowed. Campus administration has the authority to impose additional standards for outerwear and may require students to remove their outerwear while in the building if those standards are not met.

•  No midriffs shall be showing. No under garments shall be showing. No see-through fabrics are allowed. No graphics related to gangs, illegal activities or substances, glorifying blood, gore, skulls, etc. are allowed.

•  Pants, shorts, skorts, skirts, or capri pants for females and pants or shorts for males are allowed. These items must be solid black, khaki or navy blue in color.

•  Jeans may also be worn. Shades of any blue, black or khaki jeans are allowed. Embellishments allowed on back pockets only, as long as they are not deemed a distraction by administration.

• Dresses are allowed and must be a solid color, have collars, sleeves, and must be no shorter than three (3) inches above the knee including the slit.

• Shorts, skorts and skirts with the bottoms no shorter than three (3) inches above the knee are allowed. If there is a slit in the skirt or dress it may not be higher than three (3) inches above the knee.

•  Pants must be worn at the waist and be properly hemmed or cuffed and must have a belt. This includes shorts, skirts, skorts and capris. If they have loops, they must have a belt.

• Sweatpants, wind pants, drawstring pants, warm-ups and nylon athletic shorts are not allowed; no leggings allowed.

• All shoes must have a back strap or closed heel.

• "Flip-flops" are not allowed (decorated or non-decorated).

• Sandals must have a back strap.

• Hats, hoodies or other head covers may not be worn inside the building.

•  No bandanas are allowed.

•  No torn or frayed clothing are allowed.

•  No accessories that could be used as weapons are allowed.

•  No distracting jewelry or other accessories are allowed, including but not limited to: mouth grillz, pocket or wallet chains, spiked or studded rings, collars or wrist bands.

• Male facial hair is not allowed and sideburns may not be below the ear lobe.

• Male students may not wear earrings.

• No viewable body piercing of any kind other than earrings in girls' ears (girls may not have more than 2 earrings per ear).

• Nothing is allowed in or on boys' ears, including but not limited to: strings, wire, bandaids, or staples.

•  No visible tattoos allowed.

•  Mohawks and dreadlocks are not allowed; hair must be of natural color.

• Administration shall have authority to waive the wearing of standardized dress for certain days due to special events or special activities. Students who choose not to participate in the special days are expected to wear standardized dress.

Source: VISD Code of Conduct

Dress code is an expectation, not an option, said Victoria school board president Tami Keeling.

"First of all, if you have a dress code, you have to enforce it," Keeling, a former VISD parent, said. "I support it because I believe it provides the best instructional practices for every kid."

Enforcing dress code at the high school level is a daily battle for Victoria East High Schoolsecurity guard Brandy DeBord, who spoke to the Advocate as an individual and not on behalf of the district.

"It's not that we don't enforce it. It's that these kids and their parents don't comply with it," DeBord said. "Kids can't buy their own clothes."

DeBord said she believes in-school suspension is a fitting punishment for violation of dress code.

"It's fair," DeBord said, "because if you don't send them then you get called out for inconsistency."

The main dress code issue DeBord and the three other security guards at Victoria East face are frayed jeans with holes in them.

"I understand it's hard to find clothes without the holes in them, but they're still out there," DeBord said. "Ninety percent of the time, students are trying to see how far they can go without complying."

She said in-school suspension is an effective deterrent, DeBord said.

"The solution is a straight uniform," DeBord said. "We have other stuff coming into school, but dress code is our No. 1 stressor."

Keeling said consistent enforcement is key to keeping students from breaking the rules.

"I want to maximize classroom time, but at the same time, there has to be consequences if we're going to have a dress code," Keeling said. "Otherwise why have it?"

Before the 2010 dress code changes, VISD's dress code was more lax and easier to bend to one's own interpretation, said Diane Boyett, VISD communications director.

For students at the high school level, sleeved, buttoned, collared solid-color shirts are allowed as long as all the buttons of a shirt are buttoned with the exception of the collar button, according to the VISD Student Handbook.

The only T-shirts allowed are school spirit shirts.

"This standard relieved the responsibility of teachers and administrators from having to decide whether a shirt is inappropriate or not," Boyett said. "That way, no one has to make a call, and it's closed for discussion, and no one has to be put in a difficult situation."

CON: Suspension too severe; students need to be in classroom

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