Ms. Sargeant Speaks to the New LCPS Dress Code

Milo Pacheco and Shay Cox

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Many Broad Run students believe that faculty and administration enforce the dress codes and reprimand/punish  students for things that aren’t against the official LCPS Dress Code Policy. We decided to speak with  Assistant Principal, Melissa Sargent, about the dress code: 

Q: Why do you enforce the dress code?

A: When we enforce the dress it’s for safety purpose but also to have and environment conducive for learning. That’s the bottom line.

Q: Is it the safety of the students from the students or is it the safety of the students from the teachers?

A: It’s the safety of the students in general. Let’s say a female for instance who may be wearing a strapless shirt, some students wear them down about shoulder length, anyone can come behind that student and pull it down, that’s a safety issue.

Q: Do you find girls clothing to be more distracting and why?

A: Male and female clothing can be distracting; it just depends on the individual person and what they’re wearing. They are girls who wear short shorts or a short skirt, there are some boys who wear t-shirts that are called muscle t-shirts or they have their pants hanging below their waist. All of that can be distracting.

Q: Are boys and male teachers being distracted by girls clothing more important than a girls education?

A: It’s boys’ education and girls’ education. So when you say a girls education, what do you mean by that?

Q: When girls are scared of being dress coded or teachers are giving them the side eye, they sometimes can’t focus on their work or sometimes a student gets sent home.

A: We usually don’t send students home for dress code violations. I can’t remember the last time we sent someone home but I understand your question. It’s both sides really because, if a female is wearing something that may not meet dress code and she’s feeling self-conscious and she may feel that an adult in the building may tell her that she is wearing something against the dress code and she is removed in order to correct it, then, yes, that is taking away from her education. If there’s a male in the classroom and for whatever reason could be distracted by what the girl is wearing, it’s also taking away from his education.

Q: But is it more important for the male student to not be distracted or is it more important for the female to know that she can stand up for herself and say “stop looking” and that would be okay?

A: Again, it’s two things: make sure we’re following the dress code so that it will not cause a distraction and that the male will have an education. If a female were wearing a strapless shirt, a student could possibly come up to her and pull it down, that would not only be a distraction, but more embarrassing for the student.

Q: Lets say that were to happen, would the fault be more on the female for wearing the top and you would say that it’s against the dress code or would the fault be more on the boy for pulling it down?

A: The fault wouldn’t be more on either person, it would be “Young lady, please wear a strap on your shirt or a sweater over that so it can’t be pulled down,” and then to whoever pulled it down, “That’s not appropriate behavior so we would have to address that.”

Q: Do students get a say about what is in the dress code or does that not matter?

A:  The school board revised the dress code policy. There were avenues in the community where students and/or parents were able to give input whether they attended the school board meeting or not, they could also email the school board representative, but that’s how their input was given in that.

Q: Do you know why hats are banned, is it because it’s a distraction or a safety issue?

A: It’s a safety issue; if there were something to happen in the building and that person had a hat on, we wouldn’t be able to get a view of their face because the hat is covering a good portion of that.

Q: Do you believe you are doing a service to students by having a dress codes?

A: Yes because we want all students to be safe in the building. We want the environment to be conducive for learning.

 

After this interview, we asked some follow-up questions where Sargeant referenced the official dress code policy:

 

Q: How are administrators informed about the dress code and how much input do they have about the dress code?

A: There was always a dress code policy, but prior to this year, it varied from school to school. During last school year, the school board revised it. In that, there are committees and the administrators can attend those school board committee meetings and give their input. They proposed the policy revision to the entire school board.

Q: What do you think the term distraction means relating to the dress code and what types of clothing do administrators believe is distracting?

A: So distraction is anything that prohibits a student from concentrating in the classroom in terms of learning. Typically clothing that is distracting such as short-shorts, or any clothing that exposes body parts that should be covered.

Q: Do you believe the dress codes is applied fairly across gender lines and how can we make the dress code more gender equitable?

A: I do think the dress code is equitable across gender lines because looking at the policy and what it has here, it addresses both genders.

Q: Due to the fact that students use clothing and hairstyles to express the way they are, is taking away a students individuality justified to prevent distraction?

A: As long as the student’s hairstyle and clothing does not offend anyone and does not distract anyone from learning, and of course follow the policy, we’re not trying to prevent a students individuality we’re trying to promote an environment conducive to learning

Q: When you say “males and the classroom could be distracted by whatever the girl is wearing as well,” what is being taken away by his education?

A: It can go either way; if a male is dressed in a way that is distracting causing someone’s attention to be diverted to that then that is taking away from their education. So if a male or female isn’t paying attention to what’s going on in the classroom, then yes it is taking away from their education so it can go both ways.