After numerous committee meetings, listening sessions with parents, students and teachers and multiple drafts, an updated dress code policy for the Kenosha Unified School Board District was presented an unanimously approved its first reading during a school board meeting Tuesday night.
The policy change includes allowances for headwear at the middle and high school levels, hard-soled slippers and an allowance for tops to show no more than two inches, or three-finger width, of skin above bottoms.
Much of the language of the former policy remains in place, such as the requirement for tops and bottoms to cover all and undergarments, with the exception of bra straps, at all times. Clothing representing gangs or gang-related activity is prohibited and bottoms must cover 3 to 4 inches in length on the upper thigh.
Changes to the dress code policy come after concerns were raised by parents and students about gender and cultural biases being ingrained in the existing dress code policy language. According to school board documents, the goal of the change was “to create a policy that relied less on fashion terms that often date the policy quickly, as well as making the policy have a more positive than negative tone.”
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“Our goal as a committee was to try to bring forward a policy that is generally accepted by all,” said Kenosha Unified’s Chief Communications Officer Tanya Ruder. “We do not believe there is a dress code that is perfect in the world, and if there was, I think everybody would have that dress code in place.”
The committee, which was comprised of school and Educational Support Center administrators who held listening and feedback sessions with parents and students, was formed in August 2022 and finalized all the updated policy edits in April.
School Board member Eric Meadows gave thanks and appreciation to the committee, noting it was no small task to update the policy.
“I’ve heard from a large number of community members about this, so first of all, thank you for taking on probably the hardest task, you can imagine, in the school district,” Meadows said. “I think it’s right that we update the policy... I like the direction that you’ve taken and I think I would support the policy as written.”
The updated policy will go through a second reading in the board’s June meeting.