Dress for Success: Back to School Guidelines

D. Wright with Murray School District reviews some basic guidelines.


The general consensus of most school administrations is that school as a place of learning, and dress should never interfere with the learning environment of a school or provide a hazard to any student’s safety or the safety of others. If a student disregards school dress code guidelines, they may be counseled, asked to remove the offending article of clothing and change into suitable attire, or return home to change, with parent notification. Some schools may also exercise their right to provide “cover up” apparel for the day, should the need arise.

Before you put your child through the stress and embarrassment of being improperly dressed, here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind. Most individual school administrators will enforce and set specific rules for their own schools and these may vary somewhat within each school in any given school district. The general guidelines for the different age groups of children listed below have been taken from various student handbooks and principal letters for those attending school in the Murray City School District during the 2007-08 school year. They represent an overview of typical school dress code guidelines and which would, for the most part, cross over to all age groups:

All Ages

• Shoes must be worn at all times; no bedroom slippers

• No revealing clothing, tank, halter or strapless tops; no exposed midriff garments

• Pants or jeans must cover underwear

• No clothing with obscene or suggestive images or messages

• No clothing that promotes drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or sexual behavior

• No gang related clothing

Elementary students

• Shorts must be modest, no short shorts, or cutoffs

• Hats may be worn only outside of building, and must be taken off to enter building

• No unusual hair color (for example, green, blue, red, purple)

• Belts must be fitted at the waist and tucked into the waistband loops

Junior High students

• Hair to be kept clean and of a natural color

• No outer wear (coats, gloves, etc) to be worn inside of building

• Cleavage must be covered

• No clothing with messages that would denigrate others on the basis or race, color, religion, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability

High School students

• No hats, visors, hoods, or bandanas to be worn inside school building

• No clothing that is deliberately cut or mutilated

• No apparel that poses a concern, such as pants sagging below the hips,

• No jewelry that suggests a risk to self or others, such as spiked clothing and chains, wrist or neck collars

Additional references:

In 1913, the Murray Board of Education code of behavior stated that:

(Students) were required to enter buildings with clean feet, keep seats, desks, and floors around them tidy and clean, and “be cleanly in person and clothing.”

Today’s Murray City School District School Board Policy #PS 426:

Students in the Murray City School District are expected to keep themselves well groomed and neatly dressed while at school or at school functions. Clothing or grooming which is conspicuous, extreme, odd, which may draw undue attention, distract or tend to interfere with the education atmosphere at school/school functions will not be allowed. Students violating the dress code shall be asked to remove/correct the offending items or return home with parent notification to change their attire. The School Board delegates to the local school administration the responsibility of the implementation of this policy …

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