Clayton Schools make changes in student dress guidelines

By Johnny Jackson

Clayton County Public School students will realize revisions to their student dress and appearance guidelines, beginning Aug. 8, and leaving some area parents hopeful.

A district-wide committee coordinated by the Department of Student Services decided on a revised administrative rule regarding guidelines for student dress and appearance.

The revised administrative rule effectively consolidates three separate administrative rules for Clayton County elementary, middle, and high school students that had been in place more than 14 years without revision.

The revision consists of updated language that reflects modern dress fashions and contemporary society.

As Clayton County Public Schools Board Policy proposes, "There is a positive relationship between a neat, appropriate appearance and a healthy learning environment.

"These guidelines were developed to reflect common sense, good taste and the concerns of Clayton County Public Schools for the best interest and welfare of all students."

Some area parents agree with that mission and believe the revisions are a good start to focusing on education.

"I think it will be a good thing," said local business owner Demetrius Allen, 38. His eight-year-old daughter Deja attends Sweetwater Elementary School. "The way some of these kids dress is kind of disrespectful toward them and other people."

"I think it's the lack of upbringing and teaching at home," Allen said. "I think a lot of kids are being raised by parents who haven't been taught themselves."

"I think the old guidelines were too lenient," said Tommy Ector, former Jonesboro High School athletic director. It wasn't a cut-and-dry code, and there were too many loop holes."

Gary Braun, 40, said he believed the revisions would be better for the children as far as lessening gang activity.

"When I was going to school it didn't matter what we wore," Braun said. "But it matters now, seeing what children wear and cutting down on violence by searching them before they enter the school."

According to Charles White, the coordinator of public affairs and community relations for Clayton County schools, there are notable updates in the administrative rule: there will be no towels, wash cloths, or handkerchiefs carried to school or used at school except for use in physical education classes; sleeveless shirts for boys are unacceptable; chains or other objects that may be considered a safety hazard should not be worn to school; gloves may not be worn inside the school building; and trench coats may not be worn inside the school building.

These are updated guidelines in which school officials reserve the right to determine what constitutes neat, tasteful and nondisruptive dress and appearance at their schools, White said.

Ector prescribed doing as much as requiring uniforms in some public schools. He said it would take away much of the pressure parents have when shopping for trendy dress that could be deemed inappropriate in an educational environment.

"It's really about education, if you can get the parents to buy into it," Ector said. "We're here strictly for education."

The following is the student dress-appearance rule:

1. Students will wear shoes. Flip-flops, shower shoes, skate shoes, and house slippers are not permitted.

2. Shorts and skirts will be allowed if they contain no spandex material, are hemmed, and are no shorter than three inches above the knee. Track shorts are unacceptable.

3. Tights or similar clothing will not be worn unless covered by other clothing (such as shorts, skirts or dresses) which is not shorter than three inches above the knee. Note: In cases where the three-inch-rule is unclear or when deemed necessary or appropriate, school officials have the discretion to use the "fingertip" length rule.

4. Bare midriffs, bare backs, see-through blouses, blouses with excessively low necklines, halter tops and halter dresses are not permitted.

5. Hats, caps, bandanas or other headgear may not be worn in the building. (Exceptions will be considered in the case of headwear or scarves worn as part of a student's religious practice.)

6. No towels, wash cloths, or handkerchiefs are to be carried to school or used at school with the exception of physical education classes.

7. Tank tops and cut-off tops are unacceptable unless appropriate undergarments are worn. Spaghetti strapped shirts will not be permitted.

8. Sleeveless shirts for boys are unacceptable.

9. Shirts must be buttoned and tucked in at the waist.

10. Clothing which displays obscene language, signs, and profanity is prohibited. Additionally, clothing, hats, or jewelry that advertise tobacco, alcohol,

drugs, promiscuity, or gangs, or which promote vulgar or obscene taste are not permitted.

11. Clothing that is tight or immodest is unacceptable.

12. Torn or ripped clothing is not permitted.

13. Sunglasses will not be worn inside buildings unless prescribed by a doctor.

14. Students involved in classes or activities requiring safety clothing will be expected to

dress appropriately for these activities.

15. Chains or other objects that may be considered a safety hazard should not be worn to school.

16. Jogging suits and sweat suits may be worn, but they must be discreet and loose fitting.

17. Gloves may not be worn inside the school building.

18. Trench coats may not be worn inside the school building.

19. Mustaches are permitted. Beards are left to the discretion of the school administrator(s). Length of hair, hairstyles, and exotic hair colors are also left to the discretion of the school administrator(s).