New dress code will greet Keller students this year

Keller district students and their parents need to check the new dress code before hitting back-to-school clothing sales.

The 2013-14 dress code states that the minimum length for shorts or skirts is mid-thigh instead of the old knuckle rule. The code also states that form-fitting yoga pants or leggings must be covered by a top or shorts that hit mid-thigh. It also bans tank tops, cleavage and the display of any undergarments.

What concerns a lot of teenage girls is the lack of stylish shorts that hit mid-thigh. Many say that the old knuckle rule — where shorts and skirts had to extend beyond a students’ knuckles (hands closed) with arms extended at the side — didn’t rule out everything above Bermuda shorts.

“I understand why they did it,” said Ashley Carreno, an incoming senior at Keller High. “Some kids have longer or shorter arms or legs, but it’s going to be really hard to find shorts that work.”

Alyssa Little, an incoming Keller High ninth grader, said she had purchased some shorts that fit the new dress code but wondered how strictly it would be enforced and how many girls would get in trouble for failing to comply.

“I thought the knuckle rule was fine,” Alyssa said. “I think this is too restrictive.”

Lori Pemberton, mother of three Keller school district students (girls 15 and 9 and a 13-year-old boy), said the code wouldn’t really impact her son but that her daughters were not pleased with the changes.

“If they’re going to be that restrictive, maybe they should go ahead and give them a uniform,” Pemberton said.

Kevin Hood, executive director of leadership for the district, said a committee of trustees, campus administrators, teachers and parents revised the dress code over a nine-month period. They took out some out-dated references to clothing trends and wanted to make the rules easier to understand.

Committee members looked at dozens of school district dress codes from the local and state levels, and even a few from outside Texas.

“There is no perfect dress code out there,” Hood said.

The committee explored options of requiring a uniform, separate elementary and secondary codes or revising a single dress code. Members decided to not try for separate codes but asked for feedback on the idea of uniforms or revising the current code to various student groups at different levels. Hood also requested input from all assistant principals in the district who typically bear the brunt of dress code enforcement.

“The clear-cut choice was to revise our current dress code,” Hood said. “That was overwhelming. Most of what we heard was that there was some benefit to uniforms, but we don’t want to go there.”

The code also addresses tattoos (no temporary or permanent tattoos my be visible), piercings (don’t display any that are not in the ear and no bandages or spacers allowed) and hats.

The ban against wearing hats in schools unless approved by administrators has been around for a while, but the new code goes a step farther in not allowing them to be carried at school. Hood said that was a change suggested by students.

The hat ban also includes bandanas and head scarves, but students may get exemptions for religious reasons by making a request to a school administrator.

Hood said that the most important part of the dress code gives school administrators discretion in enforcing the dress code and making necessary adjustments to fit the needs of the campus.

“Our goal was to make it easy to understand and easy to enforce,” he said.