JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Fashion is an ever-evolving phenomenon. Styles come and go, and often come around again. From bell bottoms to stirrup pants, styles change.
But, something that remains the same, is where you can wear it.
We received calls from several viewers, wanting to know why school administrators sent their daughters home to change, after deeming their clothing inappropriate for school.
After checking the dress codes for schools in our area, we found most school systems have similar rules about shirts and dresses reaching a certain length, even if the student is wearing leggings. More than just the embarrassment of being disciplined, or being forced to change clothes, some think the dress codes are an antiquated way of thinking.
Christy Fair’s daughter was devastated.
“Jacie was in the office crying, and that she needed to change clothes or go home, because her dress was inappropriate,” she said.
Fair was confused. It was her understanding the clothing was appropriate for school.
“It was basically like a long-sleeved t-shirt, totally covered her neck, the shirt came down to her wrists, and it was probably about mid-thigh length, is how far it came down on her leg,” she said.
Sara Cole said the same thing happened to her daughter, Emma.
“They said it showed her bottom too much, there’s no pockets, and that’s against the rules,” she said.
“She pulled me out of class and said its inappropriate and I need to go change and call my mom,” she said.
Peggy Wright, principal at David Crockett High School, a different district than the girls mentioned, says the dress code prepares students for real life situations.
“We’re trying to teach them to dress in an appropriate way for whatever the setting is, and for school, that setting would be to be comfortable, but yet not be a distraction,” she said. “We just try to encourage young ladies to wear longer shirts.”
But both moms think the dress code is sending the wrong message to students.
“I feel like they’re sexualizing our children. They’re drawing attention that doesn’t need to be drawn,” Fair said.
“They are disrupting her school day to make her feel like she’s the reason men can’t respect women,” Cole adds.
And sometimes, the alternative is no better. Sara’s daughter had to change into second-hand clothes from the school’s closet. None of which fit, and could have violated the dress code.
Emma says, “They didn’t have my size, or it was a size too big.” (So you had to wear pants that were way way big on you). “They didn’t fall off, but they were about to, though. But, they went past my foot, and I kept stepping on it, so you were tripping on these pants. And they were falling down.”
Wright says the changing styles often requires administrators asking the school board to re-visit the district’s dress code.
She says, “If it doesn’t go along with what you already have as school board policy, then you talk to the school board about it and say, you know, we’re seeing this, we’re seeing that, would you all look at this for us.”
Something these moms wish other school districts would do to help keep students in-style, and still within the rules.
Fair says, “And, it kind of makes you second-guess yourself as a mom, or be insulted as a mother to think I would ever sexualize my child. What’s your problem with this outfit?”
Cole adds, “I don’t feel like she was wearing anything wrong. I don’t send her to school in anything that is distasteful, because that’s just not who we are.”
So, what can you do to stay on the legal side of your school’s dress code? Read your school’s dress code at the beginning of the school year, and address any questions to administration immediately.
Below, we’ve provided links (where available) to dress code policies for various school districts in our region:
School districts in Tennessee: