Lawrence school board to consider new, more specific student dress code

photo by: Mackenzie Clark/Journal-World File Photo

The Lawrence Board of Education meeting room at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive, is pictured in this file photo from Feb. 25, 2019.

The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider revising its student dress code policy, possibly installing one with more specific rules for what students can wear and how the policy may be enforced.

The school district’s board policy committee has been working to update the dress code policy because of concerns that the current policy is too broad. The current policy essentially says any clothing that has the “potential to cause a disturbance” can be disallowed. A proposed policy revision includes a much more detailed list of what students may not wear in schools.

It also specifically notes that the dress code is written to make sure it is “applied equitably to all students in the district.”

The proposed policy says students must wear some sort of top, bottom and shoes. Additionally, they may wear hats, including religious headwear; hooded sweatshirts; fitted pants, including leggings, yoga pants, and “skinny jeans”; ripped jeans, as long as underwear is not exposed; and tank tops, including spaghetti straps, halter tops, and strapless tops.

The proposed policy specifically prohibits students from wearing:

• Clothing with violent language or images on it.

• Clothing with images or language depicting weapons, drugs or drug paraphernalia, alcohol, nicotine products, illegal items, or illegal activities.

• Clothing with hate speech, threats, profanity, or pornography on it.

• Clothing with language or images that create a hostile or intimidating environment based on any protected class.

• Visible underwear. Visible waistbands or straps on undergarments worn under clothing are not a violation.

• Bathing suits, except where required for participation in a course or school activity.

• Helmets, hats, or headwear that obscures the face, except when worn as a religious observance or for medical purposes.

• Clothing that intentionally shows private parts.

• Clothing or accessories that may endanger the student or others, such as spikes.

• Clothing that covers the student’s face to the extent that the student is not identifiable (except clothing or headwear worn for religious or medical purposes).

The proposed policy says the superintendent is responsible for ensuring all staff and faculty are trained to apply the policy equitably. It also encourages staff and faculty to make reasonable efforts not to discipline students in front of their peers for violating the dress code.

Additionally, the policy prohibits disciplining or removing students from class for violating the policy unless “the attire creates a substantial disruption to the educational environment, poses a hazard to the health or safety of the student or others, or factors into a student behavior rule violation such as malicious harassment or the prohibition on harassment, intimidation, and bullying.”

If approved, the new policy would replace the current, vague policy, which reads, in its entirety: “Student clothing that has the potential to cause a disturbance in the educational program of a school shall not be allowed.”

In other business, the school board will receive an update on the school district’s enrollment and how it may affect the school budget.

The Journal-World reported last month that the district saw a 1.5% decrease in enrollment, which may affect how much funding it receives from the state government.

Prior to its regular meeting, the board will meet for a work session to receive an update on the redesign process of some of its schools. The school district’s Broken Arrow, Deerfield and Hillcrest elementary schools and Free State High School are participating in the Kansas State Department of Education program.

The goal of the redesign, which will eventually touch all Kansas schools, is to move away from an approach that relies exclusively on state assessments, and into a model driven by four principles: student success skills, personalized learning, community partnerships and real-world applications, according to talking points from KSDE.

The board meets at 5 p.m. at the school district’s administrative offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Full agendas can be found on the district’s website,

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