Blue jeans allowed: Schools relax dress code

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pull out those blue jeans and untuck that shirt, while you are at it. Beaufort County Schools has made a few changes to the 2013-2014 dress code policy.
The school board will no longer require belts, tucked in shirts or khakis as de rigueur. Students can wear any color of pants and blue jeans are now acceptable, provided they are “intact” and “not baggy,” said board members at this week’s meeting.
Oxford shirts were stricken from the current dress code, but only because it was redundant. Schools allow any collared shirt.
All were in agreement with the pants changes, but board members debated the acceptance of flip-flops, belts and tucked-in shirts.
Before discussing the dress code, Superintendent Don Phipps and several board members asked for the input of the district’s principals.
Board member Terry Williams reported back that students were cutting off belt loops to avoid wearing belts.
Chairman Cindy Winstead said principals bought rope, ribbon and twine for repeat-offenders to use.
“And some even spend their own money to buy belts,” she said.
Principals also wanted to do away with constantly checking students for belts. Board member Carolyn Walker was opposed to any school staff physically touching a student to raise shirts and check for belts.
Walker and Williams voted in accordance to the requests of principals on each dress code policy discussed.
Board member Barbara Boyd-Williams was against changing the dress code policies for belts and shirts.
“It’s a teaching opportunity. It is responsibility,” she said.
When the subject of allowing third- and fourth- grade students to wear flip-flops to school, Boyd-Williams questioned the safety of the shoes for students who play ball. Board members reminded her that sneakers are required physical education and playing ball.
Boyd-Williams recommended a stricter shoe policy.
“I don’t think flip-flops should be worn under eighth grade,” she said.
Board members voted to keep the current policy, which allows grades five and up to wear flip-flops. Board members also chose to keep the current policy for piercings.
Board member Mike Isbell was visibly frustrated when his became the deciding vote on the issue of tucked shirts. He voted against all flip-flops, preferred to keep tucked shirts optional and wanted to keep belts. But, he said those were his personal opinions.
“This is the problem with trying to micro-manage this,” Isbell said. “I’ve stated my opinion, but I’m not saying that I know better than every principal. I don’t want to give in just because something is trending. We have to draw the line.”
Williams was inclined to change policies because students were losing instructional time for the sake of them.
“The solution is have some rules and then let the teachers have some common sense in enforcing it,” said Isbell.
At the request of board member Mac Hodges, the school board will next review the school faculty dress code.