Dress Code Update – September 2010

Dear parents and students,

At the end of last year it was apparent from feedback from parents and staff that there was frustration over the choices by some students to wear clothes that members of our community found inappropriate for a school environment. At the time, the dress code in place left me little room to address the issue as it left the matter to personal choice. However, because there is a wide range of standards, some choices were clearly not appropriate. There was a need to create a dress code that helped address the concerns of our parents, while also speaking to the heart of the issue. In response our administrative team drafted a dress code for the Director’s Advisory Counsel (DAC) to consider and give input. I appreciate the time and energy that that group gave in the process before final approve at their May meeting last year. It is a tough balance to take the needs and concerns of a large and diverse group and come to consensus on an issue such as this.

In response to the feedback gained about our new policy from parents both in person and through our recent anonymous surveys the BAIS administration has made the decision to delay enforcement of part of the new dress code until January 11th 2011. Specifically the policy on the wearing of overly revealing “tight” pants will not be enforced until January 11th 2011. However the regulations that pertain to other articles of clothing such as short skirts and to bare skin and cleavage will still be enforced. I would like to commend our students for doing a great job of being modest in this area.

There are a few reasons for the delay in enforcing the “tight” pants rule that I would like to explain:

1. Lack of proper and timely notification. The Director’s Advisory Council did not approve this new dress code until their May meeting last year. In the ‘May Madness’ that sets in at that time of year, the new dress code was not sent out in the BAIS BUZZ or via e-mail to parents. Being that one of our major goals this year is good parent communication and ‘unity in community’, as an administration we feel that the lack of proper notice was counter to this goal. On behalf of the administration, I would like to apologize for this, and the stress that it has caused some of our families, that was clearly not our intent.
2. During the first week of school, we realized that we needed to have a clear guideline for what is meant by “tight.” In trying to strike a balance between current fashion trends and modesty, we came up with the ‘pinch an inch of fabric’ rule to help students be able to identify what is ok. Students should be able to pinch an inch of fabric at their upper leg/thigh or the pants are considered too tight and revealing. I realize that ‘too tight’ is a matter of opinion, but inherent in a dress code is that someone must make a call on what is ok and what is not. The only way to avoid this need for making a judgment call is to adopt a standard uniform, which we are currently trying to find suitable alternatives to in response to our parent communities desire to not move in that direction.
3. Some of our parents have expressed that having to buy all new pants right now is a heavy financial burden. It is our hope that with the extra time until January 11th 2011, parents will have a suitable amount of time to find proper attire for their children. We encourage parents to communicate with one another and with the school about places that clothes can be purchased or made for a reasonable price. Our intent was not to add a large financial burden to families.

It is our hope as the BAIS administration that with this adjustment, our parent community realizes that we are listening to feedback that we receive and doing our best to be partners with you in your child’s education. We hope that this extra time will help to ease the stress of transitioning to a new dress code. Thank you again for your support!

Sincerely,
Daniel Cooley
Secondary Principal BAIS

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