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Flip-Flops OK, Tuck-In Not Required: District’s Uniform Policy Will Be Relatively Permissive

| January 25, 2012

The school board shows its pragmatic side.

Last Updated: 2:37 p.m.

Relax, Flagler County public school students. You’re not getting a uniform policy next fall. You’re getting a slightly more controlled dress code. The biggest difference for most will be t-shirts: most are out, though on designated “Spirit Days” school t-shirts are OK. Collared shirts are in. And you’ll be limited in choice of colors to about four. (See the full proposed policy here.)

And in a series of victories for students, and for many principals, there will be no requirement that students tuck in their shirts, a perennial headache with dress codes. The proposed policy reads: “It’s recommended shirts be tucked in. Cleavage must be covered.” Another victory: flip-flops are allowed for high school students, though not footwear with wheels. In essence, only footwear found unsafe in certain activities would be disallowed.

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The Flagler County School Board met this morning in a workshop in Bunnell to work out the details of its new policy, which it calls a “uniform dress code.” (The meeting began at 10 a.m. and was disbanding just before noon). The board isn’t voting on the policy today. But it is expected to settle on the wording, and adopt the proposed policy for advertising at its meeting next week, with final adoption later this winter. Each school in Flagler will announce its two colors by next Tuesday’s board meeting.

The board did not take on enforcement matters today. “Implementation is typically a staff issue,” School Superintendent Valentine said. The student code of conduct will be refined to reflect that, though the board will have final approval.

Here are the basic outlines of the proposed policy, in so far as it affects students: Pants must be khaki, navy blue, or black slacks, or blue or black jeans. Bottoms may include walking shorts, skirts, skorts or jumpers bearing a small trademark logo. Pants must be plain-colored and have no holes, tatters or unfinished hems, and if pants have belt loops, a brown or black belt must be worn, but beyond the colors, the belt may be accessorized. Students in K-3 are exempt from wearing a belt.

Shirts must be collared–polo or Oxford shirts, with standard sleeves. In other words, no tank tops. Small trademark logos are also acceptable. Students may use district colors (actually, white) plus all shades of gray and two additional colors that would be chosen by each school. The white shirts may be an issue: School Board member Colleen Conklin suggested that white shirts would be problematic for girls, whose bras would show, for example.

The framework of the policy was drafted by Valentine and refined in a meeting last week between Valentine and all her principals.

Then came the discussion on the greatest headache for teachers and administrators regarding dress codes: the tucking-in requirement. Most students don’t want to tuck in. Many are self-conscious of doing so, if they’re fat, because it accentuates their weight. And schools with that requirements are notoriously incapable of enforcing it.

“I’m going to go with I don’t think it’s enforceable,” Board Member Trevor Tucker said. In his visit to Osceola county, where a version of a uniform policy is in effect, Tucker recalled seeing hardly any shirts tucked in, and no enforcement.

“I don’t think tucking in is a battle I want to fight with this,” Board Member Andy Dance said.

Conklin proposed making the tucking in a suggestion or a recommendation. That approach won the argument, even though Sue Dickinson, the chairman of the school board, found the approach too permissive.

Outerwear such as zip-up sweatshirts or sweaters are acceptable. The original wording of the proposed policy imposed the same color limitations as with shirts, but no hoodies. Again, Tucker and Dance raised objections: Tucker worries that limiting colors on sweatshirts would result in financial hardships for some, if families would have to buy new sweaters or sweatshirts. Dance saw no issues with hoodies.


Both won those concessions: hoodies will be allowed as long as proper clothing is worn underneath, and gray will be an additional color for outerwear such as sweatshirts and sweaters. When it comes to footwear, students from kindergarten to 6th grade must wear enclosed shoes. Middle schoolers may add sandals with a back strap. High school students may add flip-flops.

Dance and Tucker voted against the imposition of a uniform policy when the board finally decided the matter earlier this month. But both board members stressed that, now that the decision was taken, they’d fully support it. Dickinson noted the collegiality. It wasn’t just words: by throwing their support behind the policy they had opposed, the two board members positioned themselves in such a way that their voice would be amplified when it came time to actually write the policy. That’s what’s happening today: Tucker and Dance are influencing the refinement of the policy more than Fischer and Dickinson, knowing that Conklin, the swing voter earlier this month, is on their side regarding the more pragmatic implementations of the policy. Dickinson is making her points, but she’s not setting her foot down, essentially displaying the same deference to her colleagues that they showed her in early January.

How well government boards work together can be difficult to define, since collegiality is often an abstraction, and boards love to pat themselves on the back on how well they work together. For the Flagler County School Board, however, the uniform issue has illustrated the panel’s true pragmatism and collegiality in action: what is an inherently divisive issue has been managed with remarkable civility and, as today’s meeting shows, effectiveness, every board member managing to have his or her fingerprints on the policy—with the ironic exception of Fischer: he has been the quietest of the board members when it’s come to the details of the policy.

On the other hand, Ficher could have merely been sitting back, his main goal accomplished: the uniform policy is his idea. He initiated the discussion, he pushed the board toward a vote, and he got his policy. Now he’s leaving the details to his colleagues.

One potential surprise: the board is divided over whether to continue enforcing the requirement that students wear their ID at all times. “There is nothing in data that is showing that it helps with school safety,” Valentine said. One school already had changed the requirement, asking students only to carry the ID, not to display it. Only one school felt strongly that students should continue wearing the ID. The matter has become similar to tucked shirts: it’s an enforcement headache. And principals recommended to Valentine not to include the requirement anymore.

The board didn’t settle the issue. It will do so at its meeting next week, when Katrina Townsend, the district’s student services director, will argue before the board that the ID should be worn at all times, and Winnie Oden, the principal at Buddy Taylor Middle School, will argue against the requirement. The board will then made a determination.

“If we end up with issues we can come back and revisit,” Dance said about the proposed policy in general.

Before the meeting, board members huddled over a laptop for a look at this video, sent around the district by Flagler Palm Coast High School Principal Jacob Oliva last week:

Here is the latest wording of the proposed policy, as refined by the school board in a workshop on Jan. 25. Strike-outs and red additions reflect today’s amendments to the policy as originally drafted by Valentine and her top administrative staff. A printable pdf of the proposal is available here.

Proposed UNIFORM DRESS CODE 2012-13

All staff members will enforce the dress code. The administration/designee will be the final judge about whether a student’s clothing meets requirements of policy. We rely on the good taste and judgment of the students and the responsibility of the parents to advise their children of the appropriate dress in accordance with the Flagler Public School Dress Code Policy.

Specific Requirements:

Pants/Bottom Attire

  1. Must be khaki, navy blue or black slacks, or dark blue or black denim.  May include pants, walking shorts, skirts, skorts, or jumpers. A small trademark logo is acceptable.
  2. Pants must be plain without may not have any holes, tears, tatters, or unfinished hems, and must be worn securely at the waist.
  3. If pants have belt loops, a black or brown belt must be used.  Students in grades K-3 are exempt.

Shirts

  1. Shirts must be short or long sleeve polo style, oxford style, or button-up dress shirt with a collar.  A small trademark logo is acceptable.
  2. All schools may use the district colors of white or grey and choose up to two additional standard school colors.  Shirts must be solid color.
  3. On designated school Spirit Days or special events, students may wear their school logo t-shirt, team jersey, or club shirt.
  4. It is recommended shirts be tucked in.  Cleavage must be covered.

Outer or cool weather attire

  1. Zip- or button-up or “over the head” sweatshirts or sweaters are acceptable as long as required dress attire is worn beneath.
  2. Items must be solid color in white, grey or the approved school colors.  A small trademark logo is acceptable.
  3. School logo items are acceptable.
  4. Standard, required dress code must be worn, even when wearing cool weather attire.

The following general rules apply to dress code:

  1. Shorts, skirts, skorts, or jumpers are acceptable if they are within 4” above the knee.
  2. Hats, headgear, or any head covering (bandanas, sweatbands, and du-rags) will not be allowed.
  3. 3. No undergarments are to be seen at any time.
  4. Wearing apparel which tends to identify association with secret societies or gangs as prohibited in Florida Statutes is not allowed.
  5. No sunglasses can be worn inside buildings.
  6. All chains that hang outside clothing are not allowed.
  7. Any jewelry or accessory that presents a safety or health hazard or causes a major disruption to the educational process is not allowed.
  8. Footwear that is a safety hazard will not be allowed. (i. e. footwear with wheels, including but not limited to Heely’s.) K-6 must wear enclosed shoes or athletic shoes; 7-8 may wear enclosed shoes, athletic shoes, or sandals with a back strap; high school may wear all of the above and flip flops/sandals.  Footwear determined by staff to be unsafe for school/physical education classes will be prohibited by school administration for those activities or classes.
  9. All clothing must be properly sized for you, it may not be oversized or undersized, and worn secured at the waist level.

10.  Tattoos deemed inappropriate by staff must be covered.

11.  Contact lenses that alter the appearance of the eye (other than to another naturally occurring color) are not allowed.

12.  No trench coats

13.  School ID’s must be worn and clearly displayed by high school and middle school students.

According to FS 1001.43, the School Board has the right to adopt programs and policies to ensure the safety and welfare of individuals, including requiring uniforms. It is important for students and parents/guardians to work with the school in adhering to district dress code.

The Flagler County School Board and top executive staff meeting this morning to refine a proposed uniform policy. From left, board attorney Kristy Gavin, board members John Fischer, Andy Dance, Sue Dickinson, Superintendent Janet Valentine, and board members Colleen Conklin and Trevor Tucker. Katrina Townsend, the district's student services director, is to Tucker's left. Click on the image for larger view. (FlaglerLive)

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51 Responses for “Flip-Flops OK, Tuck-In Not Required: District’s Uniform Policy Will Be Relatively Permissive”

  1. Yellowstone says:

    Mike, and In respect to all your readers who do take the time and effort to reply:

    This great country was built on ideologies like, “freedom of expression”, “pursuit of happiness”, and “freedom of the press”.

    Since I suppose, you are a Journalist, you know you play an extremely important role in society; that is, to help all of us fight for and retain those freedoms.

    What will soon happen if the Daytona paper and its readers take exception to your writing – and ostracise you and your good work? Wouldn’t feel too good would it? Same could be said from your loyal readers.

    I understand your situation in regard to those who do not act civil – or refuse to share ideas. But name calling; ie, “a bunch of whiners”?

    Come on Mike, your readers may now think they should inhibit their individuality – and their freedoms.

    God bless this great country and especially thank those who preserve them.

    Regards.

       0 likes

  2. Not At Ease says:

    There are a lot more things to worry about in these schools besides a collar on a shirt. First of all, technically speaking, collared shirts are generally meant for men or boys. I personally know plenty of males who will barely be affected by this at all. However, girls will have a much more difficult time with this. Being a high school student myself, I seldom see girls with their boobs, butts, or bras hanging out. When there is, I always see them being sent to the Dean’s office to get a change of clothes. Many students do not own many of the required attire pieces, which causes difficulty financially for some to get a hold of these clothing items. The one technical thing that I find most offensive is that we are restricted in colors. Really?
    Just because someone is wearing a certain colored shirt does not mean gang affiliation. Honestly, do we really have a gang problem in this town? Even if we did, throwing a stricter dress code is not going to do anything to help the situation. The school board will be dealing with that, and also riots, and severe haste from all of the students. Outbursts and angry Facebook posts are happening with AP students and students who normally do not get into trouble. There will be more quarrel.

    On the moral side, a student is what they put themselves out there to be. Many express their individuality through the clothing they choose, and the colors they like to wear. I rarely see girls prancing around in clothes too tight, or sloppy-looking girls in huge T-shirts and pajama pants. Occasionally, yes. Instead of “punishing” the majority who dress appropriately, why not just enforce the code already set in place? I am well aware that many teachers and administrators just “look the other way.”

    As someone else mentioned, professional business attire for women generally does not include a collar. We can look nice in a blouse, sweater, or top that is collarless.

    “You can take the boy out of the hood, but you can’t take the hood out of the boy.”
    As crude and terrible that may sound, this axiom applies here greatly. If you change a criminals clothes, he is still a criminal. If you change a gang members clothes, he is still a gang member. If you put a collar on a bad person, they won’t be any different. Perhaps we should be spending our time preventing violence, bullying, and spending more funds on enriching education and updating campuses and libraries.

    Then, perhaps, we will have a better school district.

       15 likes

    • Patti says:

      I am sorry to hear that so many people feel that this is a “non” issue. It is a very real issue. Our children are only being taught that they must be punished for the actions of others.Most of these kids do adhere to the current dress code. The kids that do not comply have faced no punishment for their actions, so why would they feel they need to comply.We are taught that there are consequences for are actions in life. This basic lesson has been left out of our schools, when it comes to “dress Codes” Basic rights are now being taken away from our children. Today its uniforms and I cant help but ask my self ,What will it be tomorrow? Where does it stop?

         9 likes

  3. Former Student says:

    I’d just like to see what they will do if the students rebel next year.

    Who on the board is up for election for this year??

       7 likes

  4. Momma miller says:

    OH MY FLIPPING COW! I am really tired of people whining about the uniforms!!! WHy don’t people go complain to the school board about, I don’t know… MAKING THE MHS SCHOOL EXIT A 2O MPH SCHOOL ZONE or HAVE SOMEONE DIRECT SCHOOL TRAFIC IN THE MORING AND AFTERNOON?!?!? Then maybe you can save a student from getting into severe accident! 35mph vs 20mph or having someone direct traffic make a big difference and if you don’t believe me I can show you the x-rays! If you are getting all up set about having wearing a uniform, you would never survive what I have had to these past 4 months! You are all bunch of wimpy cry babies!!!! Shut the hell up about the uniforms, be grateful you can walk, your healthily and living!

       1 likes

  5. smitty says:

    Are they gonna have a uniform allowance like they do for free lunches?

       2 likes

  6. Elena says:

    I think this is a complete waist of time! I don’t believe that this will help in any way. I know first hand! I went to a school that had to were pants, tucked in collar shirts, and a belt. It was horrible! My mom had such a hard time as a single parent trying to find the right attire and a good price, and we had to be checked by our teacher as we were going into each class room. you tell me that doesn’t take time away from learning!!! I am a mom of 2 girls now and I was so glad I would have to deal with that but now i do! It is hard enough trying to find certain items for girls now trying to find the correct colors/ items for this dress code is time consuming and expensive! Most families wont be able to afford this.I think they need to be concentrating more on education and enforcing stricter dress code restrictions rather then worrying about colors and types of style. This will just take time away from the learning in the classroom because teachers are going to have to focus on checking if the students are dressed properly. Or I understand there are students who are over top with their clothes (i.e. pants hanging past their butts, shirts too low, clothes too big or small), well why not fix that problem!? Why go for certain colors and cuts? Maybe meet in the middle somewhere….. Lets just hope this doesn’t last and they can meet in the middle somewhere with this craziness.

       2 likes

  7. Wow says:

    There isn’t even a point in having uniforms. It has nothing to do with grades or behavior. Yes some students come to school out of dress code, but that does NOT mean that they are going to be a slacker and fail all of there classes. I think It is a discrimination to most parents who cannot afford to buy a bunch of Polo shirts and clothing of the other requirements.

       2 likes

    • Anonymous says:

      All parents opposed to the dress code should ban together and start a class-action law suit. There is no opt-out that parents can sign (I confirmed this with student services office), and under FLDOE website and US Dept of Education, they are setting themselves up for legal action by not having an opt-out. Or, refuse to buy uniforms under the “FREE public education” clause. Make the school board foot the bill for ALL uniforms for the entire district. Create a Facebook account to get all of you together!! Fight together!! Voices of many…

         4 likes

      • Flagler Parent says:

        “Flagler Residents Against Uniforms In Public Schools” Facebook page was just created. Please start a discussion there and hopefully we can all stand together to make a change!

           2 likes

  8. Give it a rest says:

    Can you people read? Re-read the policy. You are all getting your panties in a wade over things that are not even in the policy. They ARE providing an opt out. It is for religious and medical reasons only. Completely within the law. Move on and get over it – it’s going to happen. Can’t wait!

       2 likes

    • Flagler Parent says:

      There is NO opt out. I have called all the appropriate people and was told specifically that there will be NO OPT OUT for religious, medical, or ANY other reason.

         0 likes

  9. palmcoaster says:

    Parents that can’t afford those just don’t buy the darn uniforms and have the schools pay for them and bill them to Fischer, Dickinson and Conklin. So what are they going to do, denied the kids education if they do not wear the uniforms? Ridiculous!

       2 likes

  10. Flagler Mom says:

    Everyone is totally over-reacting over this whole uniform policy thing!! If these kids had parents that would actually monitor what their children wore to school then there probably would not be an issue concerning uniforms. I think what they are proposing is very reasonable. As for those of you who think that it is going to be an added expense…. oh I’m sorry but you have to buy clothes for your children anyway and instead of buying the inappropriate clothes that you buy now, you might actually have to spend money on something decent!! and for those who truly cannot afford it there are ways that they can get help. Also for those of you who say you cannot find jeans without tatters and tears, I believe there are many reasonable priced places to buy them including Target, Wal-Mart, Kohls, JC Penney, and for those that are worried about name brands, American Eagle and Hollister have plenty of such jeans in their stores to offer.
    You people need to grow up and quit whining about such a silly thing as a uniform policy. Yes, there are more pressing issues that need to be dealt with as well, but this issue is a big one and as I said before, it would not be an issue at all if parents would take the initiative to monitor what their children wear to school. I now see why kids are being so defiant and accept no responsibility for their actions, it comes straight from their parents.

       3 likes

  11. Loop Holes says:

    What if girls who show there cleavage just button down their polos. What if those gang member will just simply buy matching socks or cut their hair a certain way. What if boys who sag their pant will simply wear a belt and not tighten it. The kids will rebel. Then what will we do? Make more rules? There will always be more loop holes. We just need to enforce the rules we had before.

       0 likes

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