Document previews proposed St. Johns County dress code changes

Possible changes to the student dress code in St. Johns County public schools. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The changes under consideration for the St. Johns County School District’s student dress code include doing away with a rule that girls’ skirts must be no shorter than four inches above the knee and making the dress code standards the same for boys and girls, according to an internal document obtained by News4Jax.

The district is also considering adding a change that requires that shirts and tops must cover the entire shoulder of students and be long enough to cover the waistline and midriff, according to the document.

The proposed changes come after Bartram Trail High School came under fire last week following a teacher’s decision to digitally edit 80 photos of female students that appeared in the yearbook.

RELATED | ‘We can do better’: St. Johns superintendent breaks silence on edited girls’ yearbook photos

The recommended changes are among those that will be presented to the school board Tuesday during a workshop on the student code of conduct.

Instead of requiring that skirts, dresses and shorts be no shorter than 4 inches above the knee, the district is proposing that they “shall not be any shorter than fingertip length or mid-thigh, whichever is shorter,” according to the document. The district will also consider adding a definition for “distracting” into the dress code.

Parents who saw the document and spoke to News4Jax said the proposed changes are not enough.

Superintendent Tim Forson, who spoke to News4Jax on Monday about the yearbook photo fallout and the dress code, said part of the issue is the district is not being consistent when it comes to dress code enforcement for boys and girls on a day-to-day basis.

“I think one of the key pieces is that it is fair to every student, so there’s no gender bias to it, there’s no bias to it and any other way that might exist. Even unintentionally, that’s easy to happen,” Forson said. “I think that’s the one piece that no matter who I am, whether I’m a male or a female, affluent or not, that it treats me fairly.”

RELATED | 80 yearbook photos, all girls, edited by St. Johns County high school employee

Forson said the district will bring forward the revisions to the dress code on Tuesday “that we hope are such that are satisfactory to everyone.”

Any changes to the student code of conduct, which includes the dress code, must be approved by the school board.

The goal of the workshop Tuesday is to take a deeper look at the dress code and get input from the community, but the board will not vote on any changes until later.

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