The Fresno Unified School District board adopted a new, stripped-down dress code Wednesday that removes all explicit bans on student appearance and leaves those specifics up to individual schools.
The new district dress policy is now one paragraph:
“The Board expects students to give proper attention to personal cleanliness and to wear clothes that are suitable for the school activities in which they participate,” the policy reads. “Students' clothing must not present a health or safety hazard or interfere with the educational process.”
Schools will have the option to add to the bare-bones policy if they choose, leading to some concerns of unfairness and even legal trouble should one school choose to ban items of clothing that another allows.
Trustee Carol Mills said the district did not want to see 104 different dress codes, warning of a potential unequal application of the dress code if it varied by school site, an issue that had been raised by the ACLU last week.
“That always comes when there is vagueness in the policy,” Mills said.
However, the new dress code is a step in preventing incidents that led to backlash earlier in the year, when students were kept out of class for haircuts deemed distracting, according to Mills.
“I think it’s about time we took the word distraction out of the dress code,” Mills said.
The board voted 6-1 to approve the dress code, with Trustee Brooke Ashjian voting against it.
Ashjian said he had his staff check corporate dress policies at Costco and doctors’ offices and found no dress code more relaxed than Fresno Unified’s current policy.
Superintendent Bob Nelson announced the district would review its dress policy in March after a student at Tenaya Middle School was sent out of class for a buzz cut.
Nelson said in an interview with The Bee that one of the goals of the new dress policy is to keep students in class.
The new policy specifies that students will not face suspension or expulsion for violating the dress code.