Tuesday, August 03, 1999

Dress code eliminates some gear for safety

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Seventeen-year-old Malia Novak will have to cull quite a few pairs of shoes from her wardrobe before she can start her senior year at Boone County High School.

        Because of new additions to the school's student dress code, focused on student safety, Malia is prohibited from wearing sandals without straps attached to the heel — a staple in her closet.

        The administration is concerned that the trendy shoes cause accidents on the stairs and tripping in the halls.

        “I think people probably trip because they're clumsy, not because of their shoes,” Malia said. “But everyone has to follow the new rules, not just me. I can handle this for a year.”

        Other items banned from the students' wardrobe are spandex clothes, shorts, baggy oversized pants, sunglasses, hats and revealing tops.

        Assistant Principal Ken Spurlock said most of the dress code changes are the result of the site-based council's concern for school safety. Backpacks and bags that are not clear or made of mesh must remain in lockers, as well as coats and jackets. Pants that drag on the floor have been banned for fear they trip students.

        “We're not trying to take away anyone's personal freedom and we're long way off from having to have a uniform,” Mr. Spurlock said. “We really just want our students to feel safe in school and to know there are limits to what they can wear here and in the workplace.”

        Starting this fall, skirts and dresses must pass the “flamingo” test, in which students stand on one leg with feet flat on the floor and one knee bent a 90-degree angle. If the back of the skirt touches the bent leg it's considered long enough.

        Shorts and skorts (shorts with a skirt in front) also are prohibited. In the past, students were allowed to wear them for the first 20 days and the last 20 days of the school year. But since air-conditioning has been introduced, Mr. Spurlock said that is no longer necessary.

        Incoming senior Jessica L. Straw said the rules are reasonable. She had to wear layers of clothes in August to combat the high-powered air-conditioning unit. “It's freezing in there!” she said. “I have to wear jeans and a sweat shirt so I can concentrate on my work.

        “All the people who wear shorts complain about how cold they are anyway.” Jessica said most students will grudgingly obey the dress code, but many will test its limits.

        “I understand the reasoning behind the rules,” she said. “The current dress code gets abused every day. We would have to have these changes if people didn't take it so far.”

        The school will call parents of students found in violation of the dress code and ask them to bring the student a change of clothing. Class time missed in order to change clothing will be considered unexcused. Repeat offenders may receive further discipline such as suspension.


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