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DISTRICT PUTS SQUEEZE ON STUDENT FASHIONS.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer

LANCASTER - High school students won't be allowed to show their underwear or bellybuttons next year.

Antelope Valley Union High School District trustees passed a revised dress code that forbids exposed underwear or midriffs, allows only school hats (brims must be worn forward) and prohibits any body piercing that presents a safety issue or ``major distraction.''

``We want to make sure the message goes out to students and parents so people aren't spending money buying clothes that are not appropriate,'' trustee Donita Winn said.

The board voted unanimously at last Wednesday's meeting to adopt the new dress and grooming policy, which was drawn up with the help of a 15-member committee consisting of staff, community members, parents and students.

The policy does not preclude schools from adopting a stricter dress code that would, for example, require uniforms, officials said.

``I think this is a step in trying to prepare our kids for the world of work,'' said Barbara Willibrand, committee chairwoman and principal on assignment.

The policy would replace the district's current dress code, which trustees have described as vague.

Unacceptable clothing will include tank tops, spaghetti straps, off-the-shoulder blouses, and sheer or mesh clothing without a blouse or shirt underneath, the policy said. Also forbidden are oversized shoes.

The policy also bans baggy pants, studded belts, chains, spikes, handcuffs, safety pins and needles, as well as clothes or jewelry with ``gang-style'' writing or images judged to be sexually related or obscene, or related to tobacco, drugs, alcohol or violence.

The policy revision was prompted by trends in teen fashion and trustees' concerns about safety and security.

Board members cited as hazardous students who wear shoes four or five sizes too big and stuff rolled up socks in the shoe toe and under the tongue of the shoe to make them fit.

They also noted students who don long shirts over baggy pants, a get-up that can conceal weapons.

In some instances, students leave home wearing one set of clothes and then change to another when they arrive at school, trustees said.

In 1999, trustees flirted with the idea of implementing a dress code similar to the one at Lancaster High School, which requires polo or Oxford shirts and trousers, shorts or skirts in its school colors of red, white and blue. But students were opposed to it.

In 1996, most high schools in the district decided against requiring standard clothing and recommended simply tightening their dress codes.

Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744

karen.maeshiro(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Words:421
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