Staff members of American High express their opinions on the dress code
In a high school environment, students are expected to maintain an appropriate appearance to minimize distractions. The school wants to provide the best learning experience for the students to train them for the real world.
A common conflict between students and staff members is that students feel the dress code restricts self-expression. However, some staff members, including English teacher Ms. Gerosolimo, thinks that it is not true.
“I don’t think [the dress code] restricts students from expressing themselves; it controls how certain people want to,” Gerosolimo said. “Girls would wear way too sexy clothes and show too much skin. Gang members would wear whatever color they wanted.”
Without the dress code, staff members think students would be allowed to wear any clothing of their choice, which could hinder their learning.
“Dressing inappropriately might affect the people around them,” librarian Ms. DiFranco said. “Shorts are too short, and no one knows what’s going on in the book because those legs are just too hot to look at it.”
The school feels responsible in properly training students who do not have a role model to look up to at home. They want to teach the students to wear appropriate clothing for a professional environment.
“School rules differ from household rules; what’s being trained at home is one thing, and we can’t control what parents decide at home, but if school is supposed to be a reflection, then it’s our job to make sure they follow some rules,” AP European History teacher Mr. Iglesias said. “When someone tries to get a job, and they’re dressed inappropriately, it’s our job as school to train them.”
Students in the past attempted to change the school rules. Our new principal, Mr. Musto, explained that changing protocols that have already been made is difficult, since it is not the school’s decision but the district’s decision to make these rules.
“The district through the school board has decided that there should be some limitations on things,” Musto said. “I would encourage students to be aware of school policies and district policies and why they came to be, because often times, in my job, people think I can change things very quickly, and that’s really not the case.”
Punishments are issued according to the amount of the times the student violated the dress code. The first consequence of violating the dress code is a warning, but if it happens again, the student is requested to change clothes. In situations in which offenders are constantly caught breaking the rule, punishments such as after-school detention and parent-teacher conferences are implemented.
“The dress code rules are not to restrict, but it is to keep the focus appropriate for the setting because it is important to maintain the standards for a high school setting,” Assistant Principal Ms. Palos said. “You have a combination of ages between 14 and 18, so you have to set a certain standard to maintain a safety [environment].”
Overall, staff members hope students understand that expression is not just limited to the clothes that they wear.
“I wish people who thought that their main way of expression is by wearing other people’s clothes, learn other ways to express themselves,” Iglesias said. “They could be more productive than worrying about the clothes that are worn.”