Manteca Unified Board of Trustee Deborah Romero says some aspects of the school district’s dress code regulations may be a little “overboard” and would like to see changes implemented in the rules.
Specifically, Romero addressed the policy governing footwear and headwear – e.g., beanies and hats. She wanted to know why school children are not allowed to wear beanies to school in the winter to keep them warm or as protection from the elements. That, she said, “might be a little overboard.” The children can always take these headwear off once they are on campus, she pointed out.
She also asked for some common sense when it comes to the issue over wearing sandals to school. On the issue over sandals, for example, she asked if the wearing of saltwater sandals was allowed. This type of footwear, which has been popular for years, is open-toed but it does feature back straps and straps across the ankle for safety.
During the discussion, another dress code issue was brought up by Trustee Nancy Teicheira. She said a granddaughter of someone she knows was sent home from school because the strap of her top measured just “two fingers.”
When the topic of headwear such as sports caps was being discussed, parent Kevin Ojeda, who was in the audience, wanted to know if his son could wear the family’s favorite professional team’s cap to school to show they are diehard sports fans.
“I just want to know what my son can or can’t wear to school,” Ojeda said.
Superintendent Jason Messer said he will relay the board’s suggestions to the district administrators regarding the changes that were suggested. The board itself could also make those changes in the regulations.
Manteca Unified School District has guidelines in place when it comes to students’ dress code and grooming. These are reviewed annually. The district policy and administration regulations serve as guidelines for individual school sites’ own rules governing dress and grooming issues. Copies of these are distributed at the beginning of each school year to the parents of students to use as guidelines when shopping for their children’s clothes.
Trustee Michael Seelye, however, noted it’s too late to make any of the changes since parents have already done their shopping for kids’ clothes at this time. The first day of school for all Manteca Unified schools is Thursday, Aug. 8.
Ken Johnson, president of the Manteca Educators’ Association, noted during the discussion that there’s a reason why these dress code regulations were adopted in the first place. The ban on open-toed sandals, for example, was put in place to keep the kids safe and prevent them from ripping their toenails off while running around the campus, he said.
The school district policy on dress and grooming states: “The Governing Board believes that appropriate dress and grooming contribute to a productive learning environment. The Board expects pupils to give proper attention to personal cleanliness and to wear clothes that are suitable for the school activities in which they participate. Pupils’ clothing must not present a health or safety hazard or a distraction or disruption which would interfere with the educational process.”
The policy also specifies that the “principal, administrators and school safety committee at a school shall establish a reasonable dress code that prohibits pupils from wearing gang-related apparel when there is evidence of a gang presence.”
The administrative regulation likewise specifies that teachers, pupils and parents/guardians, the principal or designee shall be the ones to establish the rules that govern dress and grooming; however, these have to be consistent with district policy and have to be regularly reviewed.
Below are some of these school dress codes:
• Shows must be worn at all times.
• Clothing, grooming, accessories, and jewelry shall be free of writing, pictures, symbols, or other insignia, which are crude, vulgar, profane, obscene, libelous, slanderous, or sexually suggestive. Clothing that degrade any cultural, religious or ethnic values or which advocate racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice or discrimination, or which promote sec, the use of tobacco, drugs, or alcohol or any unlawful acts are prohibited
• Clothes shall be sufficient to conceal undergarments at all times. See-through or fishnet fabrics, halter tops, off the shoulder or low-cut tops, bare midriffs and skirts or shorts shorter than mid-thigh and other like garments are prohibited.
• Pants should be sized to fit the waist in order not to sag. Sagging pants are those that do not fit the student’s waistline. Pants should not need a belt to hold them up.