The Edmond Sun

Education

March 15, 2014

Parent unhappy with lack of code information

EDMOND — One middle school mother wants to know why the dress code on the school district’s website has not been updated in 13 years.

When Cynthia Lukehart’s 12-year-old honor student daughter wore leggings to school and was sent to the office along with other students for inappropriate apparel, Lukehart said she was confused because her daughter had been wearing leggings from the beginning of the school year and to her knowledge had never been called to the office before this incident in February.

“Alyssa has never been in trouble and was on the Principal’s Honor Roll, so I couldn’t imagine what she had done that would get her placed in in-house suspension,” Lukehart said.

“When my daughter was sent to the counselor’s office the counselor felt she needed to get an OK from the principal, Dana Renner. My daughter asked the counselor if she could call me and to bring her a top, which she did.”

Lukehart brought her daughter an adult-sized Central Middle School sweat shirt, and when it still wasn’t long enough to be deemed appropriate apparel, the girl then pulled her cami down as far as she could under the sweatshirt and was allowed to go back to class.

The testing to see if the top was long enough to wear leggings under it was  called the “Fingertip Test” where the student holds her arms to her side and the top has to touch her fingertips. Lukehart said when she arrived at the school and saw the desperation on her daughter’s face she felt for her because as a mom she knew she couldn’t fix it.

“I didn’t believe how the situation was handled,” Lukehart said. “To my knowledge this was the first time my daughter had been sent to the office. When I got home I went to the (district’s) website and saw it had not been updated since 2001. The Fingertip Rule was not on the website as far as leggings or jeggings go.”

Lukehart said she believes the policy needs to updated on the district’s website referring specifically to leggings and jeggings so parents can help enforce the rules set by the school.

“Even though the Student Handbook had a dress code section it still did not refer to tops being worn with leggings or jeggings,” Lukehart said.

A Middle School Student Handbook given to parents has a section on dress code but it does not specify leggings or jeggings by name, nor does it state that female students must wear a top that follows the “fingertip test” rule.  

The finger-tip test in the handbook applies to skirts and shorts and states the hemline of any skirt or shorts worn must fall below the finger-tips of a student’s fully extended arms when placed at his/her side.

“This policy was written several years ago and fashions have changed so perhaps the board needs to look at updating the policy (on the website),” said Board of Education President Jamie Underwood.

Edmond spokesperson Susan Parks-Schlepp said Central Middle School administrators and teachers have communicated the dress code through announcements and grade level discussions with students and information about the dress code was featured in Central’s September/October newsletter, which was posted on the school’s website. In addition she said parents were notified by phone to check the website because new information had been posted.  

“The code encourages students to avoid any type of dress or grooming that might encroach upon the boundaries of the dress code as the final decision about the school appropriateness of any items worn is at the discretion of the building principal,” Parks-Schlepp said.  

This dress code helps educators keep the focus on learning and is meant to define general guidelines that would allow for changing fashion trends while at the same time supporting wise adolescent choices, Parks-Schlepp added.

Although the dress code does not specifically list jeggings, leggings or skinny jeans, Park-Schlepp said, it does identify numerous other clothing items and clearly states that “inappropriate attire includes but is not limited to” the listed items.   

Items listed in the dress code include headgear, halter tops, frayed, shredded, ripped or torn garments, apparel that is too tight or too loose, apparel that reveals offensive language, apparel that identifies a student as security or police, bike or animal chains or collars, shoes must be worn, unnaturally colored hair and piercings other than ears.

“Central administrators make every effort to properly communicate the dress code and most students are well aware of the rules and make the right choice to wear clothing that falls within the guidelines of the dress code,” Parks-Schlepp said.

Parks-Schlepp said Central administrators have documented numerous cases of dress code violations at the school since September, but the dress code, while important, is not the primary focus of administrators and teachers.

“All students that were sent to the office for dress code violation (in late February) were specifically told to ask their parents to bring pants or jeans as a replacement,” she said.

“Instead, this student chose to ask her mother to bring her another shirt. The replacement shirt that was brought up to the school for her to wear was not long enough, however, the student also had a cami on and administrators allowed her to stretch the cami down over her leggings and return to class.”

The code states the dress code is based on the premise of recognizing fashion without sacrificing decency, safety and appropriateness.

“The goal is always to get students back into the classroom as quickly as possible so that they can have a quality day of instruction,” Parks-Schlepp said.

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