Rompers, Tank Tops, Hats? School Board Debates New Dress Code

Hats and spaghetti-strap tank tops are out, yoga pants are in.

At least those are a few of the dress code changes that could be awaiting Loudoun County students when they return to classes in August.

School 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.

For example, some school principals allow hats and yoga pants, others don’t.

The current policy is more general and gives administrators at each school the freedom to develop and implement dress regulations. Dress code language recommended by the Legislative and Policy Committee is more specific.

It states that tank tops straps must be wider than 1 inch; clothing that covers private areas must be opaque and appropriate undergarments must be worn; clothing cannot reveal undergarments and/or private areas; and clothing must be free from gang-related symbols.

As School Board members hammered out the policy language at their June 13 meeting—ahead of adopting a final policy next week—they couldn’t help but laugh.

Brenda Sheridan (Sterling), who chairs the Legislative and Policy Committee, fielded a slew of questions from fellow board members that turned most cheeks in the boardroom red.

“What does the size on the strap of your tank top have to do with an appropriate educational environment?” Joy Maloney (Broad Run) asked.

“I’ll say this as delicately as I can,” Sheridan started. “Part of the issue we’re trying to address is to not have the undergarments revealed.”

Maloney later followed up. “So short shorts are out?”

“Clothing cannot reveal undergarments or private areas, so if they’re too short things would be revealed that we don’t want revealed,” Sheridan said, as her colleagues at the dais giggled. “This is getting worse and worse for me right now.”

Debbie Rose (Algonkian) followed up with her own question. “Has yoga pants been addressed? Some buildings allow them, some don’t.”

Hornberger responded, “I think yoga pants would be allowable. … Unless you see it prohibited here in the policy, then it would be allowable.”

Eric DeKenipp (Catoctin) chimed in, “So is there any discussion about this male romper trend I’ve been hearing about?”

“Yes, it did come up and we had some chuckles about that,” Hornberger said, pointing out that students would be allowed to wear the so-called romphims as long as undergarments and private areas were covered.

Romphims aside, the one point of disagreement among board members was hats whether to allow high school students to wear hats. The policy committee voted 2-3 to allow hats, but school system administration and school resource officers are recommending they be prohibited.

“Hats are an issue for our camera system. In high school, it could be hugely problematic,” said Suzanne Devlin, supervisor of the Department of Safety and Security. “It seems that you’re just asking for issues.”

Hornberger voted in committee in favor of allowing hats. He said it would be another opportunity to give students more freedom and responsibility as they get older.

See the full dress code under consideration here. The board is scheduled to adopt the new policy Tuesday.

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