No Jeans, Flip-Flops or Tattoos: Teachers Get a New Dress Code

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Teachers may need to rethink their wardrobe choices this fall. Due to complaints about teachers dressing inappropriately, school districts across the country are pushing for stricter dress codes.

Most schools uphold a dress code for students -- in fact, 56 percent of public schools enforce one, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, appropriate apparel for teachers has yet to be defined.

In June, Litchfield Elementary School District in Arizona introduced a policy that would “prohibit rubber-sole flip-flops, visible undergarments, any visible cleavage, bare midriffs, clothes that are deemed too tight, too loose or transparent, bare shoulders, short skirts and exercise pants.”

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The board also suggested guidelines for hair color, piercings, and tattoos—all of which can allegedly come across as unprofessional.

Elsewhere in the state, Peoria Unified School District proposed collared shirts for men and thicker tank-top straps for women. Jeans are restricted to only once a week, since they appear too casual.

P.S. 64 in New York has always observed business attire for teachers, but its principal has recently stated that jeans don’t fall under that category.

School officials in Milwaukee conclude that teachers’ appearances are supposed to provide an example to their pupils, not distract them. Schools in the district have adopted dress codes in 2011 that consider athletic wear and T-shirts unacceptable for the classroom setting.

As schools are structuring guidelines for suitable teacher apparel, disciplinary actions for non-compliance are also being considered.

Julianne Lein, superintendent of Litchfield Elementary School District told USA Today, “Staff members will first be counseled by their supervisor to brainstorm options in ways to meet the code. Further non-compliance will be dealt with through the normal disciplinary channels.

The debate on what teachers can wear has been long-standing. In 1992, the court case McGlothin v. Jackson Municipal Separate School District upheld the termination of a teacher’s aide because she wore a beret, which went against the school’s dress code.

Do you think teachers should have a dress code? Share your thoughts in comments.

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