DCPS Toughens Dress Policies
School principals have the right to establish mandatory uniform policies and get tougher with students who violate existing dress codes, under an emergency rule posted on the D.C. Register today by DCPS.
Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman for Chancellor Michelle Rhee, said the rule was in response to widespread interest expressed by parents. "We believe that the rules should be adapted to accommodate their desires," she said.
There was no explanation from school officials this evening as to why the measure was handled as an emergency rule, which means it is effective immediately. The posting in the Register said it was "necessary to ensure preservation of the public welfare in general" and "to promote safe and secure schools."
School discipline and safety issues have gained renewed attention this year. Rhee has proposed a revision of the existing disciplinary code, which was also posted--on a non-emergency basis--on the Register Friday.
The uniform measure repeals a section of the D.C. Municipal Regulations that includes "personal determination of appearance, including styles of hair and dress," as constitutionally protected speech for students.
In addition to authorizing principals to establish mandatory uniform policies, it sets up a more comprehensive set of sanctions for students who violate rules already in place. They include "progressive corrective measures" that allow for in-school suspension on fourth offense. For more than four violations, a student could be transferred to an alternative school.
A number of schools already have dress codes, although it's not known exactly how many. The new Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School, for example, requires uniforms.
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