Who should wield the ruler when it comes time to measure hemlines on school kids?
This question dominated a Payson Unified School District board discussion of the student dress code on Monday night.
The dress code at the district level in general terms bans all manner of ragged and suggestive dress, but doesn’t necessarily spell out the details. That includes not spelling out how many inches above the knee a girl’s skirt must cover — or the precise shortness of shorts.
That nettled board member Shirley Dye.
“So there’s no standard of length of skirts or shorts? They can use the little ones that show their underwear?” she asked. She also wondered whether the standards change from campus to campus.
“They’re pretty much the same,” offered Payson Elementary School Principal Donna Haught from the audience.
“Well,” said Dye, “really short shorts are inappropriate.”
“We’re trying to get all the policies consistent,” observed board president Barbara Underwood.
“And consistently enforced,” interjected board member James Quinlan.
“What about flip flops?” asked Dye. “Can they wear flip flops?”
“Not in elementary school,” said Haught.
Oh. But apparently in the other grades. So much for consistency — or maybe the image of a second-grader careening around the hallways with unsecured heels just proved too unnerving.
“I just suggest you do some sort of bullet point on shorts and skirts,” Dye said.
“You want that in the district policy or the school site code?” asked Underwood.
Board member Devin Wala interjected, “I would like to see some consistency, so that a student isn’t suddenly being sent home for inappropriate dress for something that was just fine at another school.”
“Do we let students come to school in PJs?” asked Quinlan.
“No,” said one administrator. “They’d be sent to the nurse’s office to change.”
Dye persisted, “But if each school has its own dress code — do we even need this (district policy)?”
“The school codes can be stricter than this, but they can’t be less strict,” said Underwood.
“But why can’t we just say no more than ‘6 inches above the knee?’” asked Dye.
“In elementary school, they might not have six inches above the knee,” observed Haught delicately.
“You will get to see all of the school site dress codes,” said Underwood helpfully.
Dye rolled her eyes and added her vote to the unanimous approval of the revised district dress code.