The Kanawha County Board of Education is proposing lifting countywide bans on baggy clothes; pants worn below the waist; shorts and skirts shorter than mid-thigh; tube and halter tops; chain and spiked jewelry; and other-than-ear piercings.
Gone would be lines requiring students dress “within the acceptable standards of the community” and requiring that “hair should be kept neat, clean, and reasonably styled.”
Nixed would be the mandate that form-fitting pants “may only be worn with another layer of clothing which meets the dress code.”
Kanawha schools Superintendent Ron Duerring said that “in the world of skinny jeans, [the policy] just needed refreshed and upgraded to meet current-day standards.” He said the changes would allow more discretion.
While these and other written countywide bans would disappear if the school board approves the changes, the question of whether these styles would actually be allowed in individual schools would be left more up to school principals.
Despite all of the proposed changes the board placed out for a 30-day public comment period Thursday evening, the dress policy would retain these lines:
“Clarification regarding apparel should be obtained prior to wearing it to school; this can be obtained from the School Administration,” and “School Administration shall have the right to consider any current fashion to determine its acceptability for school wear.”
However, this line would be added to the policy’s introduction: “No attempt will be made to dictate fashion styles as long as they are in keeping with district policies.”
County school system General Counsel Lindsey McIntosh said the final vote on the changes is expected in November. They’d be the first changes to the policy in about a decade.
“We decided that it needed some updating to be current with the times and what students are currently wearing,” McIntosh said. “The idea was also to make it a little bit less gender-specific.”
One line in the current policy bans exposed female breasts but not male chests, though another current part, which is proposed to be kept, requires the entire torso be covered.
Board member Jim Crawford said “the student dress code is hard to enforce, it really is.”
The proposed changes should be posted online Friday or Monday, school system Communications Director Briana Warner said. You can read them by visiting kcs.kana.k12.wv.us and clicking “Proposed Policies” under the “Resources” list on the right side of the page.
You can email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop written comments off at the security station in the entrance to the school system’s central office at 200 Elizabeth St., on Charleston’s East End. Write them with attention to the legal department.
You can also mail written comments to that address.
Also Thursday, the board recognized bus driver Billy Wiseman for his continued dominance in National School Transportation Association bus driving competitions.