Cape school board discusses dress code changes

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recommendations to change the Cape Girardeau School District's dress code were discussed Monday during a school board special work session.

Board members, staff from the superintendent's office and principals from Cape Girardeau schools gave examples of dress code violations and heard recommendations, which consisted of:

* Eliminating jeans at the secondary level (grades seven through 12)

* Allowing cargo and carpenter shorts and pants

* Increasing the length of shirts to the fingertips, when standing at rest

* Coats and jackets: If intended to be worn inside the building throughout the day, they must meet the dress-code guidelines for tops.

"Our No. 1 issue has been sagging jeans for a long time," said Central High School principal Dr. Mike Cowan. "Now we have skinny jeans, worn mainly by females in the school. We didn't see those coming."

Cowan explained that while wearing sagging jeans is clearly a violation of the dress code, many students still insist on wearing them. And, when worn, skinny jeans fall into what was termed a "subjectivity" problem.

"What may be too skinny for one student may not be too skinny for another," he said. "It's getting tougher to judge what is too skinny or not."

The recommendation to allow cargo and carpenter shorts and pants seemed to be viewed favorably.

"They're cheaper to buy than jeans," said Kyle McDonald, school board vice president. "I think we're going to see more and more of them."

"That's one of our biggest issues at Jefferson," said Christa Turner, Jefferson Elementary School principal. "I like the idea of letting students wear them. Allowing for them would remove one of the biggest code violations at the school, particularly in the spring and summer months."

While increasing the length of shirts from the current level of the student's wrist to the fingertips, while standing at rest, was generally seen as a desirable way of providing students with more shirt length to tuck into their pants, the recommendation that coats and jackets meet dress-code guidelines for tops was seen as a way to combat a growing problem as the school year turns colder.

"At this part of the school year, we're encountering a rise in hoodies and sweatshirt tops with zippers," said Alan Bruns, assistant principal at Central Junior High School. "A lot of students don't view them as tops as defined in the dress code; they see them as jackets."

Bruns added that while those articles of clothing are permissible under the current dress code for tops -- though a hood cannot be worn over the head at anytime during school hours -- they must be of the same color in their entirety.

"Many students in the junior high school have violated that rule by wearing multicolored hoodies and sweatshirt zip-ups," he said. "There's been fighting with students and their parents over whether or not it's a top or a jacket."

Superintendent Dr. James Welker said the recommendations were for the upcoming 2013-2014 school year.

"We'll have to have more meetings to get the recommendations in order," Welker said. "Tonight was just a discussion. If the school board chooses to amend the current dress code, they will have to vote on it at some point."


Pertinent address:

301 N. Clark St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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