APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – The Appleton Area School District is piloting a new dress code at several of its schools.
“Not focusing on what you can’t wear but rather what makes people comfortable and feel safe when they’re inside the building,” said Michael Hernandez who is the assistant superintendent for secondary schools at Appleton Area School District.
Hernandez has helped to lead the pilot program of the new dress code which is happening at Appleton West, Appleton East, Wilson Middle School, and Kaleidoscope Academy.
He said a major goal of the new dress code is to revise the language. He said the language in the previous dress code usually targeted girls and assumed that their clothes cause distractions to other students.
The new dress code says that all students and staff should understand that they are responsible for maintaining their own personal distractions without regulating individual students’ clothing and self-expression.
The new dress code will use more gender-neutral, inclusive language.
“Scantily clad is written right (in the old dress code) there’s no misinterpreting who that is directed to (girls). The majority of the dress code is telling young ladies what they can and can’t wear,” said Hernandez.
Another goal of the new dress code is to change how violations are enforced.
Staff is to enforce violations discreetly rather than calling out a student while other people are around. The ensuing conversations are supposed to be respectful and two-sided taking into account the perspective of the student.
Shaming the student for the violation is not allowed.
“We’re not going to measure somebody’s shorts, we’re not going to stop a student in the hallway and question what they’re wearing,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez wants to make it clear that the new dress code doesn’t mean kids can wear whatever they want.
The district will still not allow clothing displaying alcohol, drugs, profanity, or racial slurs or language. Students must wear shirts with fabric on the front, back, sides, underarms, pants, jeans, dresses, skirts, or shorts, and footwear at all times.
If a student is violating the dress code they can either provide alternative clothing themselves, the school will provide them with temporary clothing, or they can call home to have their parents bring them alternative clothing.
The district plans to get feedback from parents, students, and staff at the pilot schools and from there will decide whether to implement the new dress code policy district-wide beginning next school year.