The School Board has settled on a new dress code that is in one sense stricter and in others more relaxed.
Board members have been working with school principals to rework the policy that outlines what clothing is appropriate—and what’s banned—with the goal of creating a more consistent standard throughout the county’s 89 public schools.
At their meeting Tuesday, board members debated for several minutes whether to allow students to wear hats and spaghetti-strap tank tops.
The policy that has been on the books gives school principals a lot of the leeway to determine what students can and cannot wear. For example, some high school principals allow hats, others don’t.
But the board ultimately voted to allow hats in high schools, as long as students’ faces are clearly visible. That decision goes against the recommendation of the school safety staff, who told the board hats make it difficult to identify students through the building’s camera systems.
Vice Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling), who voted to prohibit hats, said it will now be left up to teachers to tell students to lift their hats so their faces are visible. “Now teachers will have to deal with this. … This is going to waste time in class,” she said.
Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) and Debbie Rose (Algonkian), on the winning side of the debate, said they haven’t heard that the hats have caused any problems.
The addition of a line specifying that tank tops must have at least a 1-inch-wide strap also caused disagreement.
Joy Maloney (Broad Run) told her colleagues that the new policy’s general language that states “clothing cannot reveal undergarments and/or private areas” negates any need for specifying strap width. Plus, she added, it’s too difficult to mandate every type of blouse. “And we’re kind of saying that a thin-strapped top, like a camisole, is not professional. Well, yes, you can wear a camisole to work,” she said.
Beth Huck (At Large) disagreed. “I don’t feel like a camisole is an appropriate piece of professional clothing.”
Debbie Rose (Algonkian) said students are free to wear those outside of school. “But it’s inappropriate in an educational environment.”
The final vote on the policy was 7-1-1, with Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin) opposed and Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) absent.