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West Deptford High School Gets Revised Dress Code

The revised version goes into effect with the start of the school year next week.

Calling it a necessary step to clarify the old code and address community concerns, the West Deptford school board approved the first reading of a streamlined dress code for the Monday night.

Unlike the months of wrangling that took place earlier this year over , the updated high school code—which goes into effect with the start of the school year—passed unanimously after just a single question on footwear.

While there wasn’t communitywide support for the standardized dress code, Superintendent Kevin Kitchenman said there were still complaints from parents about the old code, making some revisions necessary for the high school's code, which is the only one affected. The middle school and elementary schools will continue to use their respective dress codes.

“It’s not anything radical…it’s not different than the previous code in what’s unacceptable,” he said, as he ticked off some examples of what remains banned under the revised version.

“Bare midriff clothing was never allowed, is not allowed and will never be allowed,” he said. “Obscene T-shirts were never allowed, are not allowed and will never be allowed.”

There are some differences, though—the updated version mandates students wear shirts that cover their shoulders, explicitly banning tank tops worn without a shirt underneath. Under the old code, there was some ambiguity, with a reference to 2-inch straps on shirts making them acceptable garments.

Resolving that ambiguity was something Kitchenman and high school principal Brian Gismondi said they wanted to eliminate with the revisions, so staff members could make a more informed judgment on whether a student’s attire is appropriate.

“We need to raise our staff’s level of concern so they take a look,” Kitchenman said. “Let’s not fool ourselves: Because humans are doing the judging, it still may be ambiguous—we hope it will be less.”

The updated code also has some revisions to reflect current fashion trends—besides dropping dated references such as, “trousers,” the code bans sagged pants that expose a student’s underwear. It also bars yoga pants, stretch pants and leggings, except when students wear fingertip-length clothing on top of those items.

It also keeps in place restrictions on clothing that advocates drug, alcohol or tobacco use, among other offensive or inflammatory material.

“High school kids will always be the ones who push the envelope,” Kitchenman said.

The full text of the revised code:

The teaching staff and the administration maintain that grooming and dress habits are important to a student's academic success and well-being. However, since it is also recognized that the regulation of student dress is essentially a Rarental responsibility, the following code represents a minimum standard: 

Standards for Dress Code 

Students should dress in a way as to not present a risk to themselves or others. For this reason, protective eyewear must be worn in lab classes and appropriate footwear must be worn. Spiked jewelry, apparel or accessories are prohibited. No outwear, headwear or sunglasses may be worn indoors. Any exceptions will be made by the administration (religious, spirit days, etc.). 

Students should dress in such a ways as not to distract from teaching or learning.

Shirts/Tops

All shirts must cover shoulders. 

Examples of inappropriate dress which are prohibited include, but are not limited to: 

  • Low-cut, revealing tops.
  • Clothing that is tight as to be form fitting is immodest and, therefore, inappropriate. 
  • Bare midriff or bare shoulder attire such as halter, spaghetti strap, tank or tube tops, muscle shirts, see-through tops, sleepwear. 

Pants/Shorts/Skirts/Skorts/Dresses

The lowest point of clothing shall be fingertip length with arms at rest. 

Examples of inappropriate dress which are prohibited include, but not limited to: 

  • Pants, shorts, and skorts worn lower than the hip resulting in exposure of undergarments or inappropriate exposure of the body, sleepwear. 
  • Excessively short skirts, skorts, or shorts. All shorts, skorts, shirts, and slits in outfits must touch the bottom of the fingertips when arms are resting at the sides.
  • Cut-offs and clothing with holes.
  • Yoga, stretch pants and leggings can only be worn underneath fingertip length garments. 

Students should dress in such a way as to not give offense or intimidate. Examples of prohibited attire include, but are not limited to: 

  • T-shirts, shirts, sweatshirts with inflammatory symbols or statements or clothing bearing words or images that may be deemed offensive.
  • Have sexually suggestive writing/pictures, advocate violence.
  • Advertise or promote the use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, have double meaning wording or obscene language/gestures, are disrespectful in nature. 
Be transparent and open August 29, 2012 at 01:47 PM
How can you pass a dress code one week before school starts and parents have already bought all their children's clothes. This was a blatant move to slam something in while people were on vacation and with no notice. The policy should not be enforced until another meeting occurs and the constituents are given an opportunity to voice their opinions. This school belongs to the citizens of WD and should be run in accordance with their wishes.
Trista Jones August 29, 2012 at 02:12 PM
students should adhere to a dress code such as this! I fully believe this a necessary and required mandate. Parents should be preparing their children to be able to dress in an appropriate fashion while at school - school is akin to a Child's 'place of business' Thank you for this revision!!
A WD Staff Member August 29, 2012 at 02:37 PM
The person who left the first comment is obviously hypocritical by saying "be transparent" but won't leave his/her own name. Parents should not be buying school clothing for their children anyway such as spaghetti strapped tanks, cleavage bearing shirts, or t shirts with beer ads and marijuana leaves. This entitling attitude of "this school belongs to me, the taxpayer, is the same attitude that many students bring to school with them. They have no problem retorting to a staff member "I pay your salary" when told that they need to pull up their pants or put on a different shirt. That kind of attitude is selfish and undermines the educational process. We (staff) know what goes within these walls. It's time for ALL parents to show their support for quality education and this starts with students dressing as if they would for the "real world" not a night at Adelphia's.
Soccerfan1994 August 29, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I think the first woman was leaning more towards the yoga pants and leggings... It's common sense that midriffs shouldn't be seen and that shirts with innapropriate words/images on them are not tolerated. I am a former student of WDHS. I have never gotten in trouble for the dress code. I think towards my senior year (last year) I saw a lot of females start to dress...well, they were dressing trashy. They looked cheap and disgusting. It's completely offensive. School is a place to learn...it's not a place to socialize and it's not a beauty contest or a fashion show. I am still a firm believer WDHS should have uniforms.
anonymous3 August 29, 2012 at 07:34 PM
I believe that it isn't exactly fair that this was proposed so close to the school year. what the staff should know is that there are not many stores that sell appropriate clothing. The few that there are don't have much. I agree that tank tops should be banned because it isn't appropriate but shirts that have at least 2 inch thick straps can be classy, if the shirt is classy. I fully agree that pants should be worn correctly and not halfway down the student's legs. As for yoga pants, girls buy them because they are comfy, I dont necasarily think that girls are trying to attract attention, but the few that do, stand out. I believe that yoga pants and leggings should be part of the accepted dress code because many girls use them for comfort (as i had mentioned before) and honestly they are not a distraction. Also i think if someone is wearing that specific clothing incorrectly or in an un-class way, they should get in trouble, not everyone else. It is our job as students to learn and do what is right, but all of us shouldn't have to pay for what others portray for themselves.
Renee August 29, 2012 at 07:46 PM
I think if the uniforms got approved we wouldn't have any problems. Parents went out and did school shopping for there kids only to find out all the money they spent on the clothes they can't wear know.
Kristi Simpkins September 01, 2012 at 01:18 AM
Be Transparent, This isn't about any of those things you mentioned. Besides the revised dress code isn't rocket science. This has to do w/ common sense & knowing what children should wear when they go to school. Regardless of what school they go to. No one or no dress code should have to tell parents, what they already should know. Which is how children should dress while they're attending school.
Kristi Simpkins September 01, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Renee, There would be problems w/ uniforms. Just a different set of problems. The only thing uniforms do is make everyone look the same. That will never work or would ever last that long. Plus if parents went out & bought their children the kind of clothing for school that would be on the "no list" of clothes to wear then those parents, have bigger problems/issues of their own to deal w/ & face. Like I said to another poster, this is about common sense & using that common sense. To know what children should & shouldn't wear to school. This is all being made into a difficult situation again. One in which doesn't need to be difficult. Especially when this situation is real simple. Children & all staff members, just need to follow the simple dress codes accordingly. That goes for every child, & also goes for every person in all of the schools. I mean what's so hard for ppl to understand?

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