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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

What to do with saggy pants?



30baggy600.1.jpgFlorida lawmakers outlawed sagging pants that expose underwear or body parts during the spring legislative session.

Now the state Department of Education is telling school districts exactly what that means.

In an advisory letter, the DOE today reminds districts that the law gives them no leeway in imposing penalties against students who wear clothing that "exposes underwear or body parts in an indecent or vulgar manner or that disrupts the orderly learning environment." If that sounds imprecise, it is, and districts have discretion to define what clothes fit the description.

Just like before, right?

But the punishment is set in stone. A first offense leads to a verbal warning. A second offense makes a student ineligible for extracurricular activities for up to five days. A third or subsequent violation would result in an in-school suspension of up to three days and a ban on extracurricular activities for up to 30 days.

Here's an interesting thought, though. What if a student doesn't participate in extracurriculars?

Florida statute defines extracurriculars as "any school-authorized or education-related activity occurring during or outside the regular instructional school day," the DOE notes. "Given this very broad definition, schools should have few students that do not participate in any extracurricular activities."

And what about districts that don't offer in-school suspensions? "Since the penalty is prescribed in statute, the district may choose to develop an alternative program consistent with the statutory definition of “in-school suspension” in order to address violations that are third or subsequent offenses."

Is that an unfunded mandate? Watch to see how well, or whether, this new dress code provision is implemented come August. Get your belts ready.

(NY Times photo)

[Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2011 3:29pm]


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