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Dress Code Input Sought by School Board

Public feedback will help board decide if policy changes should be made.

The school board is asking for public input before it considers making any changes to the district’s dress code.

“It has been raised as a question, but noo decision has been made to do anything,” school board president Evan Lerner said at Monday’s meeting.

Lerner explained that the topic first came up at a board meeting about two years ago.

“Discussions started and then they were postponed,” he said.                       

The subject—including the possibility of a staff dress code—has come up several times since then. It was brought up once again at a March 2012 policy committee meeting and again in June, when the board decided it would be better to wait until after the summer break to seek input.

“The chatter around the town is big about the dress code,” parent Marcy Glick said at the meeting. “The overall consensus is everyone would like it to stay the same and be more of a one-on-one specific approach.”

Glick noted that Bridgewater-Raritan High School principal Brett Charleston told her he felt people are generally dressing appropriately.

Glick was the only member of the less than a dozen attendees at Monday’s meeting who addressed the topic.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Schilder informed the board that Charleston is scheduled to attend the next policy committee meeting to report on the feedback he has been receiving.

“He has had a lot of students coming to him about this," Schilder said.

Lerner encouraged interested parents and students to share their views with the board at the Nov. 27 regularly scheduled meeting.

The topic of student dress is addressed in the board’s policy manual, where it indicates, “The basis of judgment for appropriateness of dress shall be neatness, health, cleanliness, modesty and good taste.”

Board policy also states that “each school shall publish guidelines for student dress” and that principals with the help of students, parents and faculty members, “shall formulate guidelines for dress and personal conduct.”

In accordance with board policy, the high school handbook states, “Students will not be permitted to wear clothing that is disrupting, distracting, intimidating or provocative in nature” and that “modesty dictates that clothing which is excessively tight or revealing is not permitted.”

At the middle school level, the handbook addresses issues more specifically. Some of the guidelines include the following:

  • Shorts and skirts cannot be any shorter than 5 inches above the knee. Mini-skirts, cutoffs or short-shorts may not be worn.
  • Spaghetti straps, halter tops, tube tops and tank tops are not permitted. Straps of shirts must cover all undergarments completely.
  • Tops must extend to the waist and meet the waistband of slacks, skirts or shorts. No undergarments should be showing from the waistline of pants, skirts or shorts.

It also prohibits wearing sunglasses in the building (unless prescribed by a doctor), pajamas, head coverings (except for religious purposes), or clothing, accessories or jewelry that could cause damage.

The middle school handbook also stresses that the dress code serves as “a minimum code” and that the principal may institute school rules and regulations considered necessary or appropriate.

What kind of changes would you make to these codes?

Laura Madsen October 24, 2012 at 10:58 AM
I'd make zero changes. This is a public school system. Private schools have uniforms and stricter standards.
HCF October 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM
I'm not sure that a stricter standard is required as much an enforcement of the existing standards. My high school daughter has mentioned seeing a girl wearing sheer top with no bra... seriously? How can that be tolerated? I'm certain THAT is outside the current standard and certainly not "good taste".
Jason Reich October 24, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Yes, a dress code should be implemented, but who would monitor this to be sure it was enforced on a daily basis?
Gary October 24, 2012 at 03:34 PM
First, I will claim mea culpa in that I was not able to attend the 10/22 (I will most certainly be attending 11/27) board meeting. That said, here's what I do know; Bridgewater is one of the highest performing schools of its size in the nation. I realize that may be based by a strong correlation to wealth, but it is also a testament to the parents', teachers', administrations', and students' concern, effort and participation in the system. I also know there are existing, documented and publically available policies currently enforced at every level of schooling. What concerns me here is understanding the mitigating forces that is even prompting this review. What specifically are the concerns that don't appear to be covered with the existing policies? Is there prevalent gang activity where kids are wearing their "colors" as means of establishing territory or otherwise creating a hostile environment (one presumes we would hear that from the stationed police)? Are there religious, cultural, or some other moral concerns that dictate one's dress? How have we gotten along for so long without this policy review? Do we really think this is the best use of people's time? Would you create measureable statistics to measure the effectiveness of said policy changes should they come forth (i.e. violations/mo pre/post implementation)?
Gary October 24, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I've had discussions with my daughters over the years about said policy and would know directly from them whether or not there was pervasive ignorance/non-adherence to said policy, because they would have both pushed the limit.
Mr. Had Enough October 24, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I don't think a dress code beyond what is noted above is necessary. Children use fashion as part of their identity, it helps them build character and lays a framework to define the type of person they grow up to be. If a student is wearing something offensive, distasteful and is considered distracting or disruptive to others, then a teacher or higher in the school should notify the parents and make arrangements for the student to be picked up or sent to the office.
Mr. Had Enough October 24, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Agreed!
Emily Reppucci October 24, 2012 at 07:42 PM
WELL, IT'S ABOUT TIME. WHAT TOOK BRIDGEWATER SO LONG TO SUGGEST THIS AND PUT IT INTO EFFECT??????
Gary October 24, 2012 at 08:29 PM
There have been documented dress codes in the student handbooks for at least the last decade. To what do you mean "put into effect"? What is in play at the moment appears to work just fine. What is your concern?
cathy October 25, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Under clothes are for under your clothes, not for the public to see and not for school.
cathy October 25, 2012 at 12:47 AM
not good taste at all. Have some respect for yourself and then others will have respect for you... These parents must be real proud of their not knowing how to parent.
cathy October 25, 2012 at 12:51 AM
and / or the parents should do there job and see how their children are dressed before they leave for school and check their backpack for other clothing.
cathy October 25, 2012 at 12:53 AM
what is the concern come to school a few times and stand and watch and I am sure your question would change.
Gary October 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM
@cathy, you seem to be a concerned citizen aware of what is going on at the schools. Please, help me understand what exactly you feel is remiss regarding the current code? I must admit I find it hard to believe your concerns are not mitigated by the current code. Also, knowing the teachers I find it hard to believe they are not actively enforcing the existing code. I have a child at the high school another that graduated last year. I'm pretty well aware of the students, and teachers, attire both from personal experience as well as ancilliary sources; and while I certainly can't speak prior to my children being in the public school system I can say the current policy has not seemed to have any negative effects on: 1) average SAT scores (up), 2) performance on AP exams (up), and 3) graduation rate (up). Now, I'm not contending there's a correlation between the aforementioned items and dress code, but I suggesting any issues or concerns you have don't appear to be negatively effecting their performance.
Evan Lerner October 25, 2012 at 02:58 PM
The dress code will be discussed again at our meeting at 8 PM on 11/13 at the Wade Administration Building. I encourage all interested parties to come and share your views.
zack November 06, 2012 at 01:14 PM
i would make zero changes because this is private schools and they have dress codes and if you do go to that school you have to wear dress code

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