Rossford Schools administrators want their school board to approve a new dress code that they say will make students safer and will better prepare them to enter the real world.
But some students, parents, and even teachers say they'd rather students wear uniforms than comply with a dress code they view as too confusing and difficult to enforce.
The school board is scheduled to vote yes or no on the proposed dress code changes at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 27.
The vote will take place in the high school's auditorium, 701 Superior St. If approved, the changes would go into effect in the fall.
Among the proposed dress code requirements, students would be restricted from wearing hooded shirts during school hours or any clothes with writing or embroidery that is not a "recognizable" manufacturer or company logo, sports team, or cartoon character.
"We're trying to get away from homemade T-shirts with derogatory names on them," Rossford Superintendent Susan Lang said. "There's always going to be some subjectivity, but we're trying to establish a standard to get away from. The idea is that we have kids that are focused on learning."
But some students and teachers said the proposed changes are too ambiguous and will force teachers and students to focus more on a student's attire than on education.
"Who's going to decide what is a recognized sports team and what isn't?" said Ashley Pawlowski, 16, a junior at Rossford High School. "That's putting the faculty in a bad position."
Catherine Haskins, 17, who is also a junior at Rossford High, said most students she's talked to said they would prefer uniforms to the new dress code.
"A lot of people have said I'll have to completely change my wardrobe for this dress code," she said.
Angi Maxwell, a parent of two Rossford Schools students who also is a teacher at Eagle Point Elementary School, said the proposed list will turn teachers into the "dress code police."
"[Students] can't wear baggy pants, or tight pants, so what are they supposed to wear?" she said. "I think it's going to be more of a pain to try to figure out who in the world is wearing what. That's just another added thing that teachers are going to have to worry about."
Although the proposed list of changes does prohibit form-fitting shorts, there is no indicated restriction on wearing "tight" pants.
But school administrators in Rossford and other school districts said dress code changes have been necessary to keep students from bringing weapons or restricted devices into schools and classrooms.
Maumee City Schools implemented new dress code requirements for the 2007-2008 school year, which initially caused some problems.
But almost a year later, Maumee High School Principal Larry Caffro said the changes have not been an issue.
"It's worked out very well," he said. "Disciplinary referrals are down this year As with anything new, we got a little resistance in the beginning, but you would never know we changed anything in our dress code at this point because it's now a matter of routine."
Some administrators, however, caution that when a dress code gets too complicated, it can do more harm than good.
Tony Brashear, principal at Toledo Public Schools' Rogers High School, who will be Rossford High School's principal this fall, said his school district's dress code has been "problematic."
Some overweight students who were insecure about their appearance had difficulty coping with restrictions like tucking their shirts in, he said, but the biggest problem was the amount of office referrals he had.
"That is just so difficult because you spend so much time with that expansive dress code that we're constantly looking for these little things and then the big thing is what are you going to do with the kid if he doesn't follow it," he said.
"If it's up for interpretation, I have 75 teachers here. Are you going to have a kid not go to class today? Now we're hurting educational time."
Mr. Brashear said Toledo Public Schools' dress code was more restrictive than the one Rossford Schools is proposing.
Ms. Lang said much of the administrators' point of view on the dress code came from talking with focus groups during the district's recent school assessment.
She said although students told her they would prefer uniforms to the proposed dress code, going from the present dress code to uniforms would be "a big leap."
But the changes are designed to help create a culture of respect and unity that students, teachers, and local residents said they want in Rossford.
"The kids talked about a lack of respect and unity in Rossford," Ms. Lang said. "We're trying to create that image and prepare students to enter the real world once they finish school."
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