Parents had an opportunity to express their concerns with Upper Sandusky High School’s proposed dress code change Monday night at a meeting in the auditorium.
The biggest complaint was that most students are being “punished” by the more restrictive dress code because a few students failed to comply with the current dress code.
“It’s difficult to find that place to draw the line,” Principal Jim Clifford said, saying that the current dress code is too vague and gives students “too many choices.”
Clifford said he would have preferred to go to campus wear, which has been adopted by a number of area schools, including Lima City, Fostoria and Galion, but instead a committee of administrators and teachers formed to consider the dress code issue decided to be less restrictive.
The state considers campus wear as a form of “school uniforms,” requiring at least six months notice to be instituted, so it no longer is a possiblity for next year.
Instead, the policy the committee came up with requires students to wear collared or crew neck dress shirts and solid-colored bottoms. Everything has to be plain without writing or images.
The only exception is that school-affiliated T-shirts would be permitted.
At issue by some parents was that other T-shirts, windpants and athletic shorts would not be allowed.
Some parents said their children were so against the proposed dress code that they would refuse to meet it or would consider transferring.
School board member Mark McQuown said his daughters are upset that he supports the dress code changes, but it is being done “for the kids in the whole community.”
Clifford began the meeting by going over the goals of the dress code, which includes promoting school spirit and eliminating fashion trends and inappropriate dress. He also said it expressed that high school is the final four years of a student’s education before going on to college or a career, where students likely will have a higher dress code standard.
Parents argued that it is important for students to be comfortable and to have opportunities to express individuality. They also said they do not believe dress correlates to classroom success.
One mother said she has a daughter who routinely would be in violation of the proposed dress code because she often wears non-school-related volleyball T-shirts, but she is an outstanding student. Meanwhile, her son typically dresses according to the proposed dress code but struggles with his grades.
The current dress code has been in place with only a few minor changes for 14 years, Clifford said, and students continue to find ways to push its limits.
Recently, one girl wore a shirt to school with the words “I’m sexy” on the front of it, while a boy wore a shirt with a sillouette of a naked woman. As it stands, Clifford said administrators and teachers spend far too much time trying to enforce the dress code.
Some parents suggested the school needed to strictly enforce the current dress code and see how that goes before making changes.
Clifford said the current dress code makes it too hard to determine what is acceptable.
He also said the school does not want to be overbearing. For example, at Fostoria, students are checked to make sure they are wearing belts and have their shirts tucked in.
Clifford made a speeding comparison, saying that minor violators typically have to be overlooked right now to focus on blatant violators. The proposed code will make it easier to be consistent, he said.
Ultimately, Clifford said the goal is to provide the best possible education for students.
“I’m going to do everything I can to be the best we can,” he said. “I want our students to be their best.”
Some students spoke in support of the dress code early in the meeting, while others expressed that they did not see what was wrong with the way they currently dress, which would be eliminated by the new dress code.
After nearly two hours, parents still had comments, but Clifford called the meeting, saying he welcomed emails on the topic.
He said the dress code committee will take into consideration the expressed opinions before presenting a final proposal for approval by the school board.
By LONNIE McMILLAN