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Dress code lacks consistency in application and interpretation – The Oxford Eagle




On August 3, 2022, many girls, myself included, were met directly outside our cars and said we were violating the dress code. We were then taken to a room in the administration offices where we were held until a parent or guardian could either take us home or bring us a new pair of clothes that complied with the rules of the dress code.

The enforced policy has been in place since 2020, however, it has never been enforced. These regulations were totally unclear and emailed to us just the afternoon before informing us that from tomorrow the dress code would be strictly enforced.

We were left in a small room with no supervision or explanation of how we broke the dress code or why we were detained. Many detained students had already bought new clothes for the school year assuming they would be allowed to wear them, only to find that they were now banned from school. The problem is not dress code enforcement. The problem is the inconsistent dress code and policy enforcement.

On June 11, 2022, Heather Lenard, Director of Communications for Oxford School Districts, sent an email titled Fact Check which included this sentence: There have been no changes to the student dress code or the dress code enforced, and there was no discussion of a change. This email responded to an older version of the dress code circulating online, but it was both confusing and misleading. Enforcement of the current dress code for the last three years of my high school career has been non-existent. I assumed because we weren’t told otherwise, and because of that email, that the lax dress code enforcement would remain the same.

On August 3, 2022, after what I would consider a disruption to our learning environment due to an unexpected dress code enforcement, Superintendent Bradley Roberson sent an email titled Dress Code Enforcement. Roberson suggests in this email that the Oxford School District has decided to implement consistent dress code enforcement following feedback from parents in the spring of 2022. The email is entirely lacking in detail as to when the administrators made this decision. If this decision was made before June 11, 2022, the OSD administration made a significant communication error in Lenards’ email. If this occurred after June 11, 2022, OSD made no apparent effort to communicate this change in application to OSD students and parents. Either way, the lack of effective communication from administrations has led to the current chaos around the dress code.

Even with inadequate communication, the school district is failing to live up to its core values ​​of fair application. The dress code sent by Roberson states that the core values ​​of the dress code are:

Students should be able to dress for school in a way that expresses their individuality as long as it does not interfere with the learning process and their health and safety or that of other students; and Students must be treated fairly. The dress code should not create disparities or reinforce or increase the marginalization of any individual or group.

This does not happen. From what I saw firsthand, all of the students in violation with me were women. If the district really wants to be fair, policies like the dress code need to be reassessed. The dress code disproportionately affects more female students than male students. This does not foster a culture of fairness.

The other major issue here is the app. The policy emailed to the district by Roberson states that staff will make reasonable efforts to avoid addressing dress code violations in front of other students. Students shall not be removed from class for wearing attire in violation of the dress code policy, unless the attire disrupts the educational environment, poses a danger to the health or safety of others, or does not contribute to a violation of student behavior rules. such as harassment, bullying or intimidation.

As we can already see, this is not true. Students are dragged down the halls and forced to miss class just for what they want to wear. The school is violating its own policy, which could set a negative precedent for future school policies. Shorts and tank tops do not disrupt the educational environment or pose a danger to the health or safety of others. As a district and a school, we have so much to rebuild from the aftermath of a pandemic. Preventing students from going to class, sending them home, or embarrassing them in front of others because of what they are wearing is not the way to get back to normal. Giving people the time and opportunity to adapt to the new application of the policy would have been the way to approach this. The policy has been in existence since 2020, students should have been informed at the end of the last school year that it would be strictly enforced this year. Waiting until the second day of school and then strictly enforcing the third day was not the right way to start the school year.

Winnie Wilson is editor of The Charger Online at Oxford High School.




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