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School Board Gives Teachers a Dressing Up

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From now on, "dressing down" in Catskill, N.Y., schools will apply only to what teachers may do to students, not to what they may do to themselves.

Last month, the school board adopted a dress code for teachers that prohibits the wearing of jeans, cutoffs, sport shirts, and T-shirts.

Under the new code, male teachers are required to wear a dress shirt and tie or a turtle-neck sweater. Fe-male teachers must wear a dress or a blouse with a skirt or dress slacks.

According to Lawrence R. Holland, superintendent of the 1,700-student Catskill Central School District, the dress-code policy was developed on his recommendation and approved by the board unanimously.

"The administration and the board both feel that it is necessary for teachers to serve as role models for students," he said.

Although teachers in the school district agree that they should be role models, they oppose the written policy the board has approved, said Jan Vincent, president of the Catskill Teacher Association, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

"We resent the fact that they have set absolutes on the type of attire that must be worn," she said. "We feel that we have always dressed professionally."

The teachers' association has filed a formal grievance with the school district under the teachers' contract and has filed a complaint with the New York Public Employee Relations Board, Ms. Vincent said.

The teachers also are considering filing a lawsuit against the school district, she said.

In 1974, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected a teacher's constitutional challenge to his dismissal for sporting a Vandyke beard and sideburns. In 1977, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit also ruled in favor of a school district in a similar case.

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