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Ridgewood High principal clarifies dress code rules amid criticisms from some parents, students



The implementation of new dress code rules at Pasco County's Ridgewood High School has come under attack this week from some students and parents who have opposed the system as unreasonable.

Principal Angie Murphy, who promoted the change over the summer, remained publicly silent as the protesters made their comments and criticisms on television and to the School Board. Late Wednesday, Murphy asked the district communications office to share some "talking points" to "clarify misconceptions and lies."

First, she spelled out the steps the school takes if a student is not dressed according to the code, which sets forth guidelines such as style of shirt and color and material of pants deemed acceptable. Some students and parents have alleged that the school is sending the teens out of class, forcing them to miss out on learning. Murphy explained:

"We ask the student if they have another appropriate article of clothing to change into. We then ask if there is someone who can bring them an article of clothing. We then ask them their size so we can provide them an article of clothing. If they refuse, we have the student call home and explain to their parent the refusal. They then proceed to ISS and we bring work to the student. If the student chooses to change while in ISS, we allow them to continue with their day. A student then has a slip that they have to have signed by each teacher and turn in at the end of the day."

She added some other information to counter what she considered misrepresentations, such as that students were disciplined over large Nike logos on their socks. They are:

- No student has been sent home for dress code. Any student that has gone home has done so by their own free will with parent consent.
- We do not dress code students for socks unless they have inappropriate content (alcohol, drugs, etc.). To our knowledge, we have not had any of these.
- Ridgewood hoodies are the only acceptable hoodies. Hoods must not be worn on the heads.
- Jackets that zip up in the front with a hood is classifed as a jacket and not a hoodie.
- Logos the size of a quarter is a gauge for appropriate logo size, we have allowed logos as large as a business card.
- High v-necks have been permitted.
- The modified dress code policy is non-discriminatory, fair, and consistent regardless of affiliation.

Support for the dress code has surfaced within the community, particularly among adults who have suggested that the teens need to learn to follow rules and understand that they can't always do as they please.

Opponents refuse to back down, though. They have begun asking why Murphy launched the dress code idea after summer vacation began, for instance, and why Ridgewood does not allow students to opt out of the rules as does Hudson Elementary, which adopted uniforms this fall.

Student protest organizer Hunter Banaciski, a senior, issued an open letter to Murphy overnight again challenging her stance.

"The modified dress code was an attempt to take the focus off of fashion, and now what's happened is there's more focus on fashion at Ridgewood than ever before," he wrote. "Education is halting, but it's not too late to turn it back around on the right track, this was supposed to be a pilot year for this program, a test of sorts, well the results are in. We need not suffer through the rest of this experiment, please repeal this dress code."

School Board members have noted the effort is a pilot project, and said it could be rescinded at the end of the year. For now, though, it appears unlikely to go away.

[Last modified: Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:26am]


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