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Changes to dress code could be in store for Greenport School District

10/11/2019 5:58 AM |

A Shared Decision committee in the Greenport School District will review the current dress code for students at its next meeting.

Board vice president Kirsten Droskoski requested at last Wednesday’s board meeting that the current dress policy be more strictly enforced throughout the school building. While she did not provide a reason for her request at the meeting, the appeal prompted a discussion about the current policy and the option to potentially modify it.

The Shared Committee is made up of board members, staff, students and other volunteers.

Superintendent David Gamberg, who did not take a position on the dress code, said he could research how other local districts enforce dress policies. He added that in the past, the Riverhead Central School District experimented with using uniforms. Questioning the policy is not unusual, he said.

Some modern school dress codes, board member Sandy Martocchia said, enforce a single, unisex dressing standard as to avoid discrimination based on gender.

“I notice with dress codes, girls tend to get a bad rap more so than boys,” Ms. Martocchia said. “If you have one dress code for everyone that says straps and shorts on everyone has to be the same length, I think that’s a little bit fairer.”

Mr. Gamberg agreed that in most cases, “the focus incorrectly leans more toward what girls are wearing at the exclusion of how boys are being allowed to dress.”

“Much of this does come back to enforcement and a common understanding of the process by which that enforcement occurs,” he said.

The district will work to enforce the policy, Mr. Gamberg said, but pushback could come from some parents since they may “have different perspectives on how they decide to navigate…or negotiate how their children dress.”

Students in violation of the dress code who do not comply with a teacher’s request to change their outfit are faced with a minimum one hour of detention, according to the student handbook. If inappropriate behavior continues, a student could be suspended from school for two days.

Greenport resident Chatty Allen, a school bus driver in the district, commended the board for talking about dress codes. About a week before the meeting, she said a student that boarded her bus at dismissal was wearing a vulgar T-shirt. She said she was “floored that they were allowed to get away with it going all day.”

“I know things slip through the cracks, but certain language — this was not a pretty thing on this shirt,” she said. “Maybe if there is a universal dress code for everybody, I commend you for looking into that.”

The student handbook notes that all students are expected to “give proper attention to personal cleanliness and to dress appropriately for school and school functions.”

The handbook notes that “extremely brief garments” are inappropriate. That could include a variety of items such as halter tops, tube tops, visible bra straps and plunging necklines among others. The code prohibits hats to be worn in the classroom and also prohibits hoods.

Students who are unable to cover a shirt that rides up and exposes skin can be given a T-shirt to wear from the principal’s office until the end of the day.

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