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School Dress Code Change Considered, Feedback Sought

A possible dress code will be up for discussion at the next Board of Education meeting.

The jury is still out on whether any changes will be made to the current dress code for students, particularly at the Bridgewater-Raritan High School—but the board of education is hoping to get feedback from parents in the district.

The board of education’s policy committee has been contemplating altering the current dress code for students to make it a little more strict, while also discussing whether a dress code needs to be imposed for staff.

According to board member Daniel Petrozelli, high school principal Brett Charleston has requested a year to address the dress code for students before the board of education makes a decision on what to do about the policy.
Petrozelli said the previous principal of the high school recommended leaving the policy as is.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder said he has spoken to Charleston, who would like to wait until he has been in the building a little longer before determining whether to change the dress code.

“He has seen that students dress responsibly,” Schilder said. “Are there exceptions? Absolutely. He would like the opportunity to see if those exceptions are going to change if they are simply told to dress appropriately.”

“He said he wanted the opportunity to see how it goes, get to know the students and see exactly what the issues are,” he added.

Board member Ann Marie Mead said that before they decide how to handle a dress code, she would like to hear from the community about what the actual problems are, as well as any potential issues.

Many of the issues, board president Evan Lerner said, concern students dressing too provocatively.

“I have heard from people that the kids dress too provocatively, so as a result, a more formal policy could be called for at the high school,” he said. “I am of the current view that we have a new principal, and I would like to see how he and his staff will handle and enforce the current dress code.”

For most of the board members, they are interested in hearing what the community thinks of the dress code at this point.

“What I have been hearing the problem is is that people are seeing too much of their kids than they need to,” said board member Lynne Hurley. “I have seen it at my bus stop.”

And board member Jill Gladstone said that she has seen boys with their jeans pulled too far down their legs, among other issues.

“I still think we don’t have a problem tweaking what we have,” she said. “If we all agree on some extreme no’s, like you can’t wear a bare midriff. We need some guidelines, but we don’t have to go crazy.”

Board of education vice president Patrick Breslin said he has heard that parents are more concerned that if the policy is too general, it can encourage students to start pushing the envelope.

“It seems a lot fairer to students and parents to have guidelines for the students that are maybe more detailed than they are right now,” he said.

Suvin Song, a student at the high school and one of the student board of education representatives, said that the dress code was stricter when she was in middle school.

“If we do have a policy that’s more detailed, it should be general for boys and girls,” she said. “People are more focused on girls wearing certain things, but boys can wear [something strange] and no one will care because they’re covering up. If there is a policy, it should focus on boys and girls.”

Hurley said she would like to know what the teachers feel about how the students dress, and whether they find it distracting.

The board determined it would plan for a discussion about the dress code at the Oct. 22 meeting with the hope that residents will attend to express their thoughts on whether it is necessary.

As for a staff dress code, Schilder said he is not advocating which direction to go, but that he does not see anything wrong with the way staff members dress.

“I think our staff dresses well, very professionally,” he said. “A staff dress code sometimes helps the situation, but I think our staff dresses professionally.”

Board member Arvind Mathur said he thinks this should be investigated as well, and the teachers can serve as an example to the students if they are following their own dress code.

Possible dress codes will be discussed at the Oct. 22 meeting, to be held at 8 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy Primary School in Raritan.

Shawn Storms October 12, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Yes - Please create a dress code immediately! Many of the girls wear very inappropriate outfits, too short skirts, and shorts too! It's very disturbing.
Jules October 12, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Administrators need to feel confident that they can enforce the rules that are in place. Currently there are many things that are not enforced, for fear of a political nightmare facing parents' objections/difference of opinion. Until the administrations (principals, guidance counselors) stand by their rules and stop caving to bullying parents, another regulation will not help.
Nanamia October 12, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I think the dress code is fine it just needs to be enforced. Staff might feel uncomfortable telling the child she or he is not dressed appropriate. I have seen inappropriate dress in the elementary level. I have heard that at Eisenhower the dress code is enforced and the children know that their shorts or skirts need to be so many inches from their knees. If this was district wide we wouldn't be having so much of a problem.
momofthreegrls October 12, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Just enforce the current code. i think it's fine as is. That's what they started doing over at the Votech. My children are shared time and there was a lot of communication to parents and students as to what the dress code is and that the student would be stopped by school personnel if they did not adhere to the dress code. BRHS needs to crack down on some of the inappropriate Halloween costumes. Anything that has a name has that begins with "Sexy ...." is probably not going to pass the dress code. If you can see your daughter's backside without her bending over, maybe you should be asking her to change before attending school.
Melissa October 12, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I would prefer uniforms. It is much easier and then no one has to think twice about it. Education should be the primary focus, not who has the best or worst clothes. Strict dress codes make it difficult because you end up spending additional money to ensure your child has enough clothes to adhere to the guidelines. If we just have to buy a few uniforms it would be more cost efficient all around. I think it would help improve the true focus of attending school.
Gary October 12, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Okay, color me stupid here. I have one daughter who graduated in 2012 and another that's a junior. What exactly is the problem that is attempted to mitigated with a dress code? Is there some correlation unbeknownst to me between the way one dresses and their capacity/propensity to learn? Is this some to mitigate a parents influence over their children to say, "You can't go to school dressed like that?" Is this a manifestation of our new found nanny-state? Are we worried that post-pubescent teens are interested in drawing attention to themselves for the self-serving purpose of making them sexually attractive? Give me a break. This is ridiculous....
Melissa October 12, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I'm not trying to start an argument, but obviously there is an issue if this is currently being debated. There is too much time and energy being spent on this topic that could be resolved with uniforms. There are parents letting their children walk out of the house indecently exposed, amongst other things, and it is causing an unnecessary distraction at our schools. I went to a highschool that enforced their strict dress code and it was very difficult. We wasted a lot of time and money shopping for clothes that met the strict dress code. None of the time and energy currently being wasted on this topic would occur if we had uniforms. And the school system wouldn't have to step in and do the jobs parents should be doing to ensure our children are dressed appropriately for school. It's obviously causing a distraction and affecting the schools otherwise it wouldn't even be a topic on their radar. I could care less what happens outside of school. However when my children are at school, I'd like the focus to be what they are trying to learn, not what other children are wearing or what private body parts are exposed.
Matt Lavan October 12, 2012 at 06:50 PM
As an alumni of BRHS, I find this story to be ridiculous. Uniforms don't do anything to help kids learn. Parents need to do a better job telling kids that the way that they dress is inappropriate. A more strict dress code is the least of the district's problems. How about not freezing teacher's pay or reducing benefits. This story is just a distraction to avoid the important issues at hand.
Gary October 12, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Is it plausible that people/administrations create environments of conflict for their own self-serving needs without any clear societal benefit? Is it plausible that there are those that create solutions in search of problems as a means of proving some validation of their value to system? Is it may, just maybe, plausible there really is no issue here other than some preconcieved notion that Catholic School model is a code that should be followed???
BwaterDad October 12, 2012 at 09:21 PM
There are some students who do sometimes dress in a manner that is a distraction from the learning environment, not to mention that it does not foster an attitude of mutual respect among students. I don't think there needs to be a specific dress code (as some districts do have) in which you need to get out a ruler to determine whether there has been a violation. I am talking about extreme cases, and I think the current policy, while somewhat vague, would be sufficient IF it was enforced.
Gary October 13, 2012 at 11:42 AM
but the direction is to UNIFORMS....
Mike October 14, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Bingo. Boys showing their @sses (via sagging pants) and girls showing their "whale tails" or wearing shirts emblazoned with the likes of "It's not cheating if you're drunk!"* are the two biggest issues. And fear of an angry parent calling Schilder or the Board and getting blowback keeps many staff from doing their jobs. Parents need to teach their kids to stop dressing like prostitutes and felons. *actually happened at BRHS. Similar stories abound - ask your HS kids.
Mike October 14, 2012 at 06:02 PM
The thug/slut look is a distraction. We charge teachers with preparing our kids for college, work, and adult life, yet some criticize a basic standard of clothing. If I taught at the HS I would not want to have to see your sons' @ss/boxers and your daughters' thongs all day long. Bad enough many drop f-bombs three times a sentence. The kids who were raised properly deserve better and so does the staff.
Mike October 14, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Gary: Nice theory. How much time have you spent at BRHS during the day as a passive observer? Who [from BRRSD[ said we should adopt Catholic schools' standards? Matt: Nice to hear a former student's viewpoint. It's 'alumnus', btw. :^) What I wonder is this: are these kids buying and laundering these clothes in secret, and stashing them somewhere to change into before they get to school (and doing the reverse when going home)? Or are parents buying and laundering the clothes, assuming the kids won't wear them to school? Or they just don't care? Sometimes the parents come in for conference and as soon as the teacher/administrator sees them, they immediately realize what's going on (i.e., the parents dress the same way).
Mike October 14, 2012 at 07:38 PM
I'm sure your 16-yr-old boy learns just fine when Susie's cleavage is hanging out or her tramp stamp is clearly visible just above the top of her thong; I'm sure he'll be paying full attention to the lesson and the assignment (when he's not trying to photograph the show with his parent-supplied iPhone). All it takes to address this is calling the parents to bring a change of clothes. Or mandate that parents AND their child attend a "Dress for Success" class, perhaps Saturday morning. NOTE: Fortunately, the majority of students have self-respect, but it only takes a small % to affect the school climate. Would you want to learn or teach in an environment where the following are okay? http://i.imgur.com/nmPHH.jpg http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_mmBw3uzPnJI/S7tpLXMjsmI/AAAAAAABJTU/UL5Toh_2sJw/s400/celebrity_whale_tails_03.jpg
Gary October 15, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Yeah, so let's legislate and administrate by tyranny from the minority as opposed to having the parents of offending kids and their children take personal repsonsibility. Again this a solution in search of problem. And for the record Mike, my teenage daughter (who dresses appropriately) doesn't want anything to do with ignorant, foolish, little boys in high school, she's too busy studying and learning for her AP exams.
Mike October 15, 2012 at 11:54 AM
@Gary: I didn't say anything about your daughter (how would I know?). Brava that she's wise enough to avoid that behavior. If you read my previous posts, you'll see I did, indeed, propose targeting the offenders (and their parents). Just because your daughter can filter/focus doesn't mean the others can. The issue is that parts of the current code is a bit subjective (see below), but if you want to label this with hyperbole ("tyranny"), that's your 1st Amendment right. I prefer to reserve such terms for extreme situations. http://brrsd.k12.nj.us/files/266/2012-2013%20student%20handbook%5B2%5D.pdf DRESS CODE Students are expected to be neat and clean in appearance and to dress in good taste. Consideration for fellow students dictates that a student’s mode of dress should not be annoying or offensive to them. Clothing should not be so bizarre as to distract students and interfere with the instructional program. Students will not be permitted to wear clothing that is disrupting, distracting, intimidating, or provocative in nature. Clothing which violates accepted safety standards is to be avoided. <safety stuff snipped> Modesty dictates that clothing which is excessively tight or revealing is not permitted. Some Specific Dress Code Guidelines 1. Footwear must be worn at all times. 2. Garments designed to be worn as underwear may not be worn as outerwear. 3. Shirts with obscene, insulting, or derogatory slogans are not permitted.
Mike October 15, 2012 at 11:56 AM
My prediction: We won't see uniforms in B-R...at least until the gang issue is more visible.
Mary Clare October 19, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Not to beat a dead horse....but I paid attention this week when dropping my child off at school. Maybe the dress code should be enforced. I didn't see the boys with the baggy butts, but I did see lots of girls that need a lesson in modesty. If it isn't discussed at home, maybe the staff should get involved.
Gary October 20, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Modesty? Meaning what? Do tell, no niqab, nor tunic wear? Oh, the shame.
Mary Clare October 20, 2012 at 11:29 AM
WOW, you are an angry person. Oh, the shame.
Gary October 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Angry, hardly. My poinst is what is the "lesson in modesty" you feel needs to be educated. Modesty as defined by who/what?
Sam October 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM
My poinst, who says that? Mary Clare, you took the words right out of my mouth. Come on Gary, get a grip. You don't need to be quizzing everyone or asking for definitions. You seem intelligent enough to know what we're getting at here. Congrats to you that your daughter can dress appropriately and not be distracted by those who do not. Wish we could say the same for everyone's children.
Mary Clare October 20, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Gary, modesty as defined in Mikes post which is in the BRHS student handbook. Obviously, your daughter has more self respect and has been taught well by her parents as to what is really important. For that you should be proud. It SHOULD start at home, that was the initial point I was trying to make.
Mike October 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
@Gary: Do you think students learn best in an environment that features the likes of the following? http://www.amazing-planet.net/slike/underwear/Whale_Tail.jpg http://ww1.hdnux.com/photos/14/64/25/3360112/3/628x471.jpg Perhaps your kid(s) know better, but several do not. Even 2% of 3000 kids is 60 kids - enough to be a distraction. Yes, B-R parents, this sort of thing happens at your beloved HS. Fortunately, not many, but enough to warrant this conversation. And few staff members (especially males) are going to even contemplate talking to a student about it (unless they're seeking early [forced] retirement)? I'm told the short-shorts girls wear are the only shorts sold in stores anymore; I've heard this from parent and kids alike. Perhaps this is an opportunity for the district to commission shorts of a reasonable length, emblazoned with the BRHS logo, to be sold at a modest markup with proceeds going to solve the "school food sucks" dilemma. Problem solver, I am. Now, if you only knew what goes on down the shore after prom...but that's another thread.
cathy November 13, 2012 at 05:50 PM
The dress code is NOT enforced and that is why we need to change it.
Mike November 13, 2012 at 09:37 PM
@Shawn Storms: A dress code DOES exist. Read this thread in its entirety; details abound. How 'bout the parents be brought in for Saturday detention instead of the kids?
Mike November 13, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Don't forget the "It's not cheating if you're drunk!" t-shirts. If I had a daughter and I found out she wore a shirt like that, we'd road trip to Lancaster PA for an Amish wardrobe makeover.
Mike November 13, 2012 at 09:39 PM
That would also save parents a TON of money. $30 khakis instead of $150 jeans with holes so big you could drive a truck through them. Or maybe we send those kids to the classroom with the brass pole...if they want to dress like it, may as well train for it.

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