Lincoln County School Board considering new dress code policy

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LINCOLN COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- 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.