School dress codes aren't just for students anymore, after the West Deptford school board finalized a new policy Monday night that outlines appropriate teacher attire.
Teachers at will now have to comply with a formal dress code policy that calls for business casual attire as the “minimum accepted standard for all employees.”
The policy was passed after a 5-2 vote. Lisa Eckley, who is a science teacher at neighboring Gateway Regional High School, and Ginny Brockway voted against the policy, after the two had expressed concerns in a previous board meeting over the scope of the policy.
“This was something that the community brought forward to us,” said school board President Christopher Strano.
The policy mandates certain standards of dress and grooming, and prohibits sneakers, tight and revealing clothing, and jeans—save for fundraiser days. Teachers must also adhere to the guidelines of the student dress code policy, which was the subject of debate for months, as the school board considered .
Also among the teacher dress restrictions is the prohibition of wearing T-shirts of any kind, which would nix a move many teachers and union members took when they wore black shirts emblazoned with "WDEA" when contract negotiations came to an impasse last year.
However, Strano said the restriction on t-shirts was not due to the “WDEA” shirts and was not aimed at hindering teacher solidarity.
“They can do that on other things now," said Strano, regarding union slogans.
The new dress code for teachers will be the same across the district, but will be enforced at the individual school level at the principal's discretion.
Following approval on the new teacher dress policy, teachers could find themselves subjected to more regulation. The board also adopted a new social media policy, which prohibits employees from posting inappropriate comments or photographs on the web, as well as addressing inappropriate conduct on other forms of media.
Unlike high-profile cases like in Pennsylvania following disparaging blog posts about students there, there have been no issues with West Deptford teachers and social media in the past, and superintendent Kevin Kitchenman said the new policy serves more as a preemptive measure.
“This [policy] provides guidance and clarity to the staff on the use of social media,” says Kitchenman.
This policy will clamp down on what teachers put out via email, blogs, social networking sites and various other means.
Teachers who violate the policy, including posting anything that could be offensive towards students or colleagues, could be subject to disciplinary action up to firing for non-tenured employees.