School Lengthens Dress Code

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This fall, the last word in fashion at Payson High School will be a stricter dress code designed to buck the racy fashion trends set by pop-culture image setters such as MTV.

Decorum is in, short shorts and spaghetti straps are out.

"The styles that have developed -- spaghetti straps with bra straps showing -- aren't appropriate," high school administrative intern and English teacher Debbie Wheelis said. "We want to foster respect among the students, and dressing more conservatively should help them do that."

The high school has had a written dress code for a number of years, but up until now, it has been primarily tailored to prevent students from wearing gang- and drug-related clothing.

But the skimpy styles and loose-fitting fashions that teens have come to favor recently -- bare midriffs, halter tops, sagging pants and short shorts -- have become a classroom distraction.

"For the past three years we've had several complaints from parents and staff that students have been wearing clothing with underwear clearly visible," PHS Principal Phil Gille said. "Our previous dress code prohibited clothing considered to be obscene, vulgar or in poor taste ... but teachers were hesitant to enforce those rules because they were so subjective.

"How high is too high for a crop top?
How much underwear should be allowed to show? The issue with our rules now is clarity. What's appropriate to wear and what's not."

To answer that question, school officials invited a group of students, teachers and parents to serve on a dress code committee, and the committee forwarded its findings to the school's fashion-plus class for student review.

"The fashion-plus class discussed the issue in depth and gave us some real good recommendations," Gille said. "From that, I think we've clarified what's decent to wear and what's not.

"We hope this new system will allow us to be more objective and fair."

Students who violate the school's dress code risk being sent home or becoming subject to other discipline measures such as detention, Monday night school, in-school suspension or out-of-school suspension.

PHS dress code don'ts
Payson High School officials encourage parents to familiarize themselves with the school's dress-code restrictions before taking their children shopping for back-to-school clothing.

The following styles are prohibited on school grounds and at school activities:

  • bare midriffs, halter tops, spaghetti straps, tube tops, crop tops, see-through or revealing clothing, tops that are too revealing;
  • sagging (not baggy) pants, undergarments worn as outer garments, anything that reveals an undergarment, short shorts, short skirts;
  • clothing considered to be obscene, vulgar or in poor taste and apparel promoting alcohol, drugs, tobacco, or obscene language.

Students also are prohibited from wearing or carrying gang, satanic, drug or alcohol paraphernalia, symbols or apparel. Such items include bandannas of any color, size or shape and simulations of anything representing gang colors.

In addition, shirts and shoes must be worn at all times other than in the gym or physical education areas.

For more information on the high school dress code, call the school at 474-2233 or refer to the school's student handbook.

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