Pro: Students need firm consequences for their dress code violations

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

May 18, 2014 at 12:18 a.m.

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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