According to the San Jose Unified School District (SJUSD) dress code, students are expected to “wear clothes that are suitable for the school activities in which they participate” in order to ensure a “productive learning environment.
According to Mary Ann Dougherty, Assistant Principal of Discipline, if a student is found violating the dress code, they will first receive a verbal warning; if they are sent to the office a second time, they will receive Saturday school. However, if a student’s clothing serves as a distraction to their peers, they will be sent to the office to change into appropriate clothing provided by the school and receive a verbal warning.
“It is important to teach students the standards of dress related to work. School is a job, and students should treat it like a working environment,” Dougherty said.
In prior years, students were not permitted to wear tank tops, tube tops or off-the-shoulder clothing, but now the district handbook only requires students to cover the torso and chest. This change was enforced in order to reduce double standards, as previous years’ rules were more discriminative towards clothing girls usually wear.
“Girls are specifically targeted in dress code regulations: they are not allowed to wear tank tops and must wear shorts which satisfy a certain length. Girls should not have to change outfits because students might get ‘distracted’ by shoulders or thighs,” Sophomore Allison Wang said.
Regulations for gang-related clothes have also changed over the years, due to the constant changes in fashion trends. The San Jose Police Department (SJPD) reinforces that “only one item of red or blue may be worn,” excluding items such as solid red or blue shirts, bandanas and belts that are related to gang activities. These changes in dress code were also implemented at schools in the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD).
Recently there have been issues with dress coding students for hair common in African American culture. C.J. Stanley, a six-year-old boy in Apopka, FL. went to A Book’s Christian Academy with his hair styled in dreadlocks and was not allowed to attend class. The school explained that they do not allow braids, and hair “has to be above the ears.” He was, as a result, unenrolled from the school.
“With the dress code, people are not allowed to express themselves. Everyone has their own style which they can show through their clothing and this can make them feel more confident because it is their own style, and in some cases, it represents who they are,” Junior Ivan Fu said.