Brecksville-Broadview Heights schools may relax dress codes

October 31, 2017 GMT

Brecksville-Broadview Heights schools may relax dress codes

BRECKSVILLE, Ohio – The Brecksville-Broadview Heights City School District may relax dress codes in the district’s six schools next year.

Schools Superintendent Joelle Magyar said most pupils and parents recently surveyed said the dress codes are too strict. Specifically, pupils would like to wear sweatpants and athletic shorts, which are explicitly banned at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High and Middle schools.

Athletic shorts are not allowed at Chippewa, Highland and Hilton elementary schools, although dress codes at those three school don’t mention sweatpants or sweat shorts. The Central Elementary School dress code doesn’t address either athletic shorts or sweatpants.

Last week, the school board was split over whether to try new dress codes after winter break in January or wait until next school year.

Board member Mark Dosen said new dress codes, if introduced in January, might cause controversy just as the district campaigns for a bond extension it may place on the May ballot. The bond extension would lengthen but not increase an existing tax to pay for new school buildings, if the district decides to build them.

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“I say we should avoid topics that can unsettle people,” Dosen said.

Board member Michael Ziegler argued that since more than half of parents surveyed agreed that dress-code changes are in order, new dress codes would not hurt the bond issue’s chances of passing.

Magyar said she would prepare new codes – and possibly bring uniformity to dress codes at the four elementary schools – and present them to the board Nov. 20.

Addressing dress

The high school dress code lists several types of prohibited clothing, including:

hats or other head coveringssunglassestank tops or bare midriff clothingtransparent or spandex clothingsagging pants below the hip bonesweatpants, yoga pants or exercise wearclothing that displays references to tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, drugs or other illegal itemsclothing that depicts violence or is associated with gang activityclothing that contains or expresses sexual innuendowallet chains and heavy or over-sized jewelry worn around the neck, wrist or waistclothing with holes or tearsvulgar, lewd, obscene and plainly offensive (clothing)other attire deemed inappropriate by the administration

Also, skirts, culottes and dresses shorter than mid-thigh aren’t permitted. Tops, shirts and blouses must either have sleeves or a collar. Underwear must be hidden, and footwear is required.

Shorts, no shorter than mid-thigh, are allowed from first day of school through Oct. 31 and from April 1 to the end of the school year. Only dress, Bermuda and walking shorts are allowed.

The middle school bans most everything on the high school list plus:

pajama bottomsshorts over leggings that are not fingertip lengthclothing with fraysnon-natural-looking hair coloringpencil skirts

At Central school, the list of prohibited clothing includes:

apparel and accessories that could jeopardize health and safety or cause a disruptive influencetight-fitting leggingsspandex-Lycracut-offs, and torn or short shortsshort skirts or dressespajama pantstorn and-or tattered jeanshalter tops, tank tops, muscle shirts and bare-midriff shirtsshirts with questionable statements and sloganssandals, flipflops, high heels and Heelyshats or head coverings, unless used for religious, medical or cultural reasonscoloring hair in unnatural huesmakeup or face paint

At Chippewa, Highland and Hilton, the lists are similar but exclude tight-fitting leggings, short skirts or dresses, pajama pants, torn-tattered jeans, Heelys, hats and head coverings and makeup or face paint.

Loosen up

Dress codes initially came up last school year. The district’s Student Advisory Group, which includes two pupils from each grade in grades 4-12, told Magyar the codes were too restrictive.

Magyar relayed pupil concerns to parents leading the district’s various parent-school organizations last school year and again this past summer. PSO parents agreed to survey pupils in grades 4-12, parents of pupils in grades K-12 and staff members about the dress codes.

Surveys were emailed in September. Of the more than 400 responses, 77 percent said the existing dress codes were too strict. Of the pupils and parents responding, 86 percent and 62 percent, respectively, believed the dress codes were too restrictive. Among staff, it was 23 percent.

Magyar added that parents were more concerned about dress-code enforcement, whatever the rules are. They believed the district was failing to enforce existing dress codes.

Results of the survey were shared with PSO parents in early October. They agreed to make changes. Magyar suggested a second-semester trial period, starting in January, before making the new dress codes permanent in the 2018-2019 school year.

The board balked at the trial period. Some board members thought, in addition to creating controversy around election time, changed dress codes in the middle of the school year would conflict with student handbooks.

“My concern is that it would cause confusion,” board President Kathleen Mack said. “It’s a big change.

However, three of five board members wanted Magyar to prepare new dress codes for a possible second-semester trial run.