UPDATE | Lincoln County School Board releases new dress code policy
The Lincoln County School Board approved and released an updated dress code policy Tuesday. It is now up for a 30-day public comment period before it is officially passed or rejected.
The conversation about school dress code started when parents were concerned about dress code enforcement consistency at Guyan Valley Middle School.
As a result, Superintendent Jeff Midkiff began to investigate the current county-wide policy, according to School Board President Steve Priestley.
Midkiff found the state changed it's current policy a few months ago, and it no longer included language stating all school principals were responsible for creating and enforcing a dress code.
The new state policy mainly permits and addresses uniforms across the state.
Midkiff then realized their county dress code needed to hold schools responsible. The new dress code states all schools should submit a dress code policy that must be approved by the superintendent.
The new dress code does not include language about shorts and skirts requiring a 3-inch inseam. That length will be decided by the school.
Priestley said every Lincoln County school, except Ranger Elementary School, has a dress code policy that has already been approved by the dress code.
The public has 30 days to voice their opinion to the school board about the new policy and possible changes they want to see.
Hallways and classrooms are empty in Lincoln County, but school officials are already thinking about next school year.
Lincoln County School Board President Steve Priestley told WSAZ they are considering a countywide dress code policy that's clear and consistent. This proposal comes after parents, like Tessa Clay, voiced concerns about unfair, and even harsh, dress code enforcement.
"My daughter just wore a pair of normal, just ripped jeans, nothing too revealing," Clay said. "When I picked her up from school early because she had a doctor's appointment she had duct tape on her legs. I was very upset because when I got her to the car she had a severe allergic reaction."
Now, the dress code guidelines aren't specific. They simply say the clothes cannot be distracting, interfere with school work, present a hazard to health or safety, cause damage to school property, and promote illegal activity.
While Clay hopes the policy could boost equal treatment and eliminate favoritism in schools, she knows many parents can't afford to buy a new wardrobe.
"Parents are just going to have a hard time with buying all new clothes and trying to figure out, you know, making sure their kids don't get in trouble," Clay said.
The policy is still in it's early stages, but the first draft states students are expected to wear shorts, skirts and dresses that "must have at least a 3-inch inseam and does not expose undergarments." Shirts must cover all sides of the pants and not expose the midriff for any perspective.
Sleepwear and hats would be unacceptable, but exceptions could be made for special occasions.
With rules that specific, many parents say the county should just get uniforms.
"I think that's something they should put funding into," Clay said.
"I anticipate a policy will eventually be enacted. The draft was just the beginning of our discussion in student dress," Priestley said.
According to Priestley, if a new policy is adopted, there will be a 30-day comment period for teachers, students and parents to share their opinion. Then, the policy would be up for a vote by school board members.