Denim Debate

By Liana Loewus — November 17, 2008 1 min read
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Disparate teacher dress codes within Jefferson Parish, La., have some public school teachers in an uproar, according to the Times-Picayune. While a number of principals allow teachers to wear jeans and capris to school, others forbid denim and require pants that cover the ankle.

Meladie Munch, secretary treasurer of the Jefferson Federation of Teachers, opposes the inconsistency. “We’re one school system, and all employees need to be treated the same.”

The current district code states only that clothes should be “neat, laundered, properly fitting, and appropriate to the job,” leaving principals to determine their own specific rules. “At one school, there was a policy where your shoes had to match your outfit,” Munch said. “Fortunately, we were able to work through that.”

In many cases, principals became more lenient after Hurricane Katrina, which forced many teachers to replace destroyed wardrobes. “Everybody just seemed to get more relaxed in their dress,” says Munch. Many, but not all, schools have maintained liberal guidelines for apparel.

The union contends that denim should be permissible at all schools as long as it is “neat, clean, and appropriate.” After hearing the union’s concerns at a recent meeting, school board members directed the Jefferson Parish regional superintendents to draw up a more detailed clothing policy.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.