FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – The school district in Flagler County is looking at making big changes to its student dress code.
It comes as the dress codes across Northeast Florida have come under scrutiny from students and parents.
The changes, which are still in the early stages, would be transformational and get rid of a strict uniform dress code that was put in place 10 years ago. Though, as FlaglerLive.com reported, the current dress code has been reluctantly enforced and loosened over time.
Across Florida, student dress codes have been criticized with some claiming they are outdated and unfairly target girls.
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Jack Petocz, an activist and junior at Flagler Palm Coast High School, wrote an op-ed published on FlaglerLive.com in September and said the dress code “limits individual expression” and is “an utter waste of time.”
The calls for dress code changes in Flagler County schools spurred the creation of a committee to look at making changes. On Tuesday, the Flagler County School Board got its first look at the proposed changes recommended by the committee.
They include doing away with requirements for polo or button-up dress shirts with a collar and allowing any kind of shirts, as long as it’s not offensive and covers a students’ midriff, among other restrictions.
The committee also wants students to be able to wear any solid color or patterned pants, as long as they are not shorter than mid-thigh, and they aren’t pajamas.
School board member Jill Woolbright raised questions about the changes, saying they may not be specific enough, but added it is the perfect time for a new dress code.
“Because of the pandemic and things, we have lost control of our dress code. And so once you lose control you can’t reel it back in,” Woolbright said.
Director of student services Marquez Jackson said students’ mental health should be part of the equation when making any changes.
“There are a lot of kids that may not feel comfortable about their body. So, you know, we have this conversation. There are kids that wear hoodies in 98-degree weather, you know, and it doesn’t matter what age they are,” Jackson said.
School Board member Cheryl Massaro said last year she wanted the district to rework the dress code to make it more enforceable and less likely to lead to student referrals, Palm Coast Observer reported. When Flagler Schools put a uniform-type dress code policy in place in the 2012-2013 school year, the number of referrals went from 468 the previous year to more than 1,571, with 75% of them dress-code related, according to the Observer.
A Flagler Schools spokesman stressed that any dress code changes are still in the early stages and more revisions may be coming as the board goes through the process.
The school board wants to have the changes in place before the start of the next school year.