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Student Dress Codes.

ERIC Descriptors: Discipline Policy; Elementary Secondary Education; Freedom of Speech; School Policy; State Legislation; Student School Relationship

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School officials see a need for regulations that prohibit disruptive and inappropriate forms of expression and attire; students see these regulations as unwanted restrictions on their freedom. This paper reviews court litigation involving constitutional limitations on school authority, dress and hair codes, state law constraints, and school uniforms. It concludes that school officials have authority to regulate student appearance; however, that authority must be exercised within the bounds of the Constitution and any pertinent state law. At some point, school officials can and should impose some restrictions on student appearance; the question is whether the regulation at issue is both legally sound and practical in application. Student dress codes are common but highly variable. Courts will support student dress and grooming code provisions that are necessary to maintain an educational environment that is free from substantial distractions and disruptions. Courts, however, will not support regulations of student appearance that reflect little more than officials' personal preferences. Regulations of hair style are more difficult to justify than regulations of attire. During recent years, however, hair codes have seldom been contested, while dress codes have often been at issue because of gang problems and inappropriate messages on clothing. Policies that regulate explicit forms of expression are more easily justified than those that regulate symbolic forms. Finally, regulations pertaining to student appearance should be sufficiently specific to provide notice to those subject to the regulations and guidance to administrators, yet be sufficiently general to allow for some administrative discretion. (Author/LMI)

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Author:Uerling, Donald F.
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Date:Jun 1, 1997
Previous Article:Occupational Preferences among Middle School Girls and Boys Participating in Service Learning.
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