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Wichita School District installs teacher dress codes

8:20 AM, Jul 30, 2012   |    comments
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By Yasmeen Abutaleb, USA TODAY

When kids in one Kansas school district return to class this fall, they won't be seeing cutoff shorts, pajama pants or flip flops - on teachers.

The Wichita School District is just one of a growing number in the nation cracking down on teacher apparel. Jeans are banned in at least one elementary school in New York City. A school district in Phoenix is requiring teachers to cover up tattoos and excessive piercings. And several Arizona schools are strictly defining business casual.

In an increasingly diverse nation where what you wear may be the ultimate self-expression, teachers are falling victim to the same dress code rules as their students.

In most cases, schools are taking the actions because they believe some teachers are dressing inappropriately. School board members received parental complaints about teacher dress at Arizona's Litchfield Elementary School District, Superintendent Julianne Lein says.

The move comes at a time when the number of public schools requiring uniforms has nearly doubled over the past decade to 19%, reports the National Center for Education Statistics. The center doesn't track teacher uniforms or dress codes. But it soon may have to, as schools have moved to:

Ban tattoos and piercings. Teachers can't sport outlandish hairstyles or facial piercings, and tattoos have to be covered up at the Litchfield Elementary School District.

Fifth-grade teacher Tim Schooley, who says he's surprised it's taken so long to implement a dress code, isn't sure how school officials will enforce the tattoo rule. He has a tattoo on his calf, but keeps it covered .

"Tattoos can be a symbol or something of extreme significance that you have," he says. "That, to me, is a little bit different."

Outlaw jeans. At New York's P.S. 64 Robert Simon School, jeans are an absolute no-no.

Nix skinny straps. Students shouldn't be seeing too much of their female teachers in Peoria and Litchfield school districts, as tank-top straps can't be less than 2 inches wide.

What happens to those who don't follow the new rules?

"Staff members will first be counseled by their supervisor to brainstorm options in ways to meet the code," Superintendent Lein says. "Further non-compliance will be dealt with through the normal disciplinary channels."

But in this case, not detention.

USA TODAY

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