At the April 28 District 65 School Board meeting President Tracy Quattrocki announced that the District’s dress code had been rewritten and that copies of the new dress code had been included in Board members’ packets. “We do have an update to our dress code. Our principals got together and rewrote the dress code and had parental input,” she said.

The principals’ meeting had already been scheduled for April 24 when, earlier last month, some parents of Haven Middle School students complained that Haven teachers and staff were enforcing the school’s dress code inconsistently. Haven’s dress code is substantially similar to the District’s dress code. The uneven enforcement was the topic of several meetings, conversations and social media vehicles, as parents, teachers, administrators and others struggled over what is appropriate for pre-teen and early teenage students to wear and how to convey that message. For a couple of apparently uncomfortable weeks in the District, several people parsed the distinction between leggings and yoga pants.

There was no discussion and no vote was taken on the new dress code. The overarching intent of the dress code is “[S]tudent appearance, including dress and grooming, must not disrupt the educational process, interfere with maintaining a positive teaching/learning climate, or compromise standards for health, safety, and decency.”

Most of the specifics seem to be the same or similar to the previous dress codes of both Haven and the District: Hats and outerwear may not be worn except for religious or medical reasons. Clothing that has, among other things, certain words that are racist, lewd, vulgar or appear to “incite others to imminent lawless action” is not allowed. Pants and shorts must be worn above the waist. (See below for full dress code.)

Board member Candance Chow asked whether the dress code would be implemented “immediately or next year? What’s the effective date?”

Chief Administrative Officer Barb Hiller said, “I think what the agreement was [that] most of the things on there are not controversial, but very appropriate. We’d like to see them happen now. That’s why we had it done so quickly and got it out. It will go into the handbook officially for the fall.”

According to the guidelines established by Evanston/Skokie District 65, student appearance, including dress and grooming, must not disrupt the educational process, interfere with maintaining a positive teaching/learning climate, or compromise standards for health, safety, and decency. In District 65, dress and grooming are important components of an overall positive learning environment. District 65 students and parents are expected to use good judgment in selecting attire for school. The district has established the following guidelines:

• Clothing or accessories that denote, suggest, display or reference alcohol, tobacco, or drugs or related paraphernalia or other illegal conduct or activities, including gang affiliation or activities is prohibited.

• Clothing and accessories that reasonably can be construed as being or including content that is racist, lewd, vulgar, or obscene, or that reasonably can be construed as containing fighting words, speech that incites others to imminent lawless action, defamatory speech, or threats to others [is prohibited].

• Outerwear should not be worn during the school day.

• Hats or head coverings are not permitted during the school day unless worn for religious or medical reasons.

• Shorts, skirts and dresses less than fingertip length (length of a straight arm extended on the leg) are prohibited.

• Bare midriff shirts are not allowed.

• Sleeveless shirts must encircle the arm.

• Revealing/transparent/sheer clothing is not permitted. Clothing must not reveal undergarments.

• Pants and shorts must be worn at the hip or above.

• Shoes that could jeopardize student safety are prohibited.

• Accessories that could be considered dangerous or weapons (ex. spiked necklace or bracelet) are prohibited.

• Students will be asked to remove/replace clothing that is not in compliance with the dress code.

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...