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August 17, 2012

Dress code new for Kershaw County educators (+survey)

Kershaw County teachers and aides are under orders to look professional as classes resume Monday.

The district’s new dress code is the most detailed among Midlands schools in outlining what is taboo in apparel and jewelry.

The standards put “everybody is on the same page” to avoid confusion about what’s acceptable, school spokeswoman Mary Anne Byrd said.

School leaders developed the plan after hearing concerns sporadically about inappropriate appearance, she said.

“Fashion is always changing,” said Lori Cooper, a Camden Middle School teacher who was consulted on the standards. “If you set some boundaries, there is no question. It’s good to define some parameters.”

The plan was adopted by the school board after review by teachers and staff. Among the requirements:

Leggings aren’t allowed unless under a dress or skirt.

• Dress and skirt lengths must be long enough “to assure modesty.”
• Clothes can’t be tight or low-cut and must cover undergarments.
• Beach footwear is barred.
• Shorts, sweatshirts and T-shirts are prohibited except in athletic instruction.
• Pants can’t be torn, frayed or “extremely” faded.
• No piercings can be visible except for those on ears.
• Tattoos with “inappropriate language or images” must be covered

Exceptions are allowed for field trips, pep rallies and similar events. The standards don’t apply to workers who wear uniforms.

Volunteers are told to abide by the guidelines, with problems called to their attention, Byrd said.

The dress code is more detailed than those in other Midlands schools, but similar to what Lexington County Council set for its 1,300 employees.

Most schools tell teachers and staff that a professional appearance is expected, leaving the matter up to principals and supervisors to police.

But a few offer a handful of specifics on what’s OK and what’s not.

In Lexington 1, a video is shown each year outlining appearance guidelines.

The handbook given employees in Lexington 2 includes suggestions on appropriate apparel.

“We provide some examples, but not a list,” assistant superintendent Jim Hinton said.

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