RHS cracks down on dress; uniforms up for debate

December 8, 2010
By

On any given day at Revere High School (RHS), one might see students coming through the front door wearing pajamas, flip-flops and sweat suits.

Girls wear spandex pants that are too tight.

Boys wear baggy pants that are too loose.

It’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere, seemingly.

Too relaxed, though, say administrators.

RHS Principal Lourenço Garcia and Superintendent Paul Dakin have begun cracking down on the dress code at RHS and it has some students and parents upset, while others are relieved.

It’s an exercise that both administrators said will eventually lead to a conversation about school uniforms.

“There are more parents interested in getting things under control than those who are mad about this,” said Dakin. “There are even a small number who are wanting us to consider uniforms and we’re scratching our heads on that one. Dr. Garcia will talk with parents and students to see if we can get rid of all this foolishness about who is wearing what by going to uniforms…School is a workplace for kids. Sometimes if you bring beach clothes to work, the work doesn’t get done like it should. Kids are bringing beach clothes to school. And if you’re wearing pajamas to school – and we’ve seen kids come with pajama bottoms and slippers – it’s not conducive to that workplace.”

Garcia, who is in his first year at RHS, has been the driving force for the crackdown on student dress.

“We are cracking down on that,” he said. “That’s why a lot of kids are becoming anxious about that…Some kids come with pajamas on. Where do we draw the line?”

Garcia said that he is in the process of tightening up the language in the Student Handbook about what can and cannot be worn to school. He said he would probably put out an addendum to the Handbook rather quickly.

“I am revising the language to make sure it’s more specific and strict so the kids understand the guidelines,” he said.

He also said that the situation at least deserves a conversation about school uniforms – something that the high school has never considered before.

“Many schools are thinking about school uniforms,” he said. “We are studying the issue. Basically, I think that’s better for students and parents. It will bring the cost of clothing down and will eliminate competition among the kids. You come to school with one standard of dress.”

Garcia said that he would soon begin to put together a task force of parents, students and administrators/faculty to study the school uniform issue.

“This is a decision that really needs to be vetted through the community,” said Dakin. “Personally, I think it has a lot of possibilities for eliminating distractions and improving the learning environment. The conversation and thought has to be elevated to thinking about what we are really preparing kids for.”

Clarifying the dress code, and perhaps adopting uniforms, is a matter of public safety, and a matter of creating the best learning environment, Dakin and Garcia said.

“I really think Dr. Garcia is on to something here,” said Dakin.

The issue will be addressed at the School Committee as well, where that board will have some input on the clarified code and also the idea of uniforms.

Garcia said some of the items they are cracking down on are:

•Spandex pants

•Pajamas/sleepwear

•Inappropriate footwear, such as flip-flops

•Undergarments that are showing as a result of baggy pants

•Wearing large winter jackets inside the school

•Head gear such as hats, bandanas, and kerchiefs

•Sweatpants or jeans with writing on the rear end

•Miniskirts

•Untied tennis shoes

•Anything gang related

•Shirts that leave a bare midriff, or are sleeveless/strapless

It was originally believed that Ugg boots were prohibited, but Garcia said that was just a rumor and was not true.

Garcia said that the final decision does rest with the principals, and they will use common sense and discretion. He noted that each case is individual and it is clear when someone is violating the rule.

He said that the school will not hesitate to call parents when students show up with inappropriate clothing, and if the offense is repeated it could lead to detention or suspension.

“This is a place kids come to learn,” said Garcia. “They can come and have fun. There are a lot of ways to come to school and have fun. Coming to expose themselves and to show off their bodies, they can’t do that. We want them to learn that’s not acceptable. Down the line, they’ll understand we have their best interests in mind and we want them to be able to learn without distractions.”

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