WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 07, 2011, 10:37 AM

What not to wear: Schools stress dress codes for back-to-school shopping

Fargo - Carl Ben Eielson Principal Brad Larson has a simple way of explaining the appropriate school dress code:

By: Amy Dalrymple,

Fargo - Carl Ben Eielson Principal Brad Larson has a simple way of explaining the appropriate school dress code:

“The bottom line is, for both guys and girls, we don’t want to see their underwear,” Larson said.

As families shop for back-to-school clothes, they should keep in mind what’s appropriate for the school setting.

Cory Steiner, West Fargo High School principal, said that can be difficult because the stores are often filled with shorter shorts and revealing tops.

“There isn’t a lot to pick from out there that is school appropriate or winter appropriate in North Dakota,” Steiner said.

At the start of the year, schools reinforce dress code rules for students.

The dress codes vary slightly among the metro area public schools, but all have similarities.

Clothing that is too revealing, such as low-cut tops, skimpy tank tops and short skirts or shorts are generally not allowed.

For guys, the common issue school officials see is pants that sag so low their boxer shorts are exposed.

Clothing that promotes alcohol, drugs or violence or includes lewd language is also not allowed.

“We want to focus on education with kids; we don’t want clothing to be a distraction,” Steiner said.

Thirteen-year-old Devon Redden said she keeps the dress codes in mind while doing her back-to-school shopping.

Redden, who will be an eighth-grader at Fargo’s Discovery Middle School this fall, plans to shop for tank tops that have straps that

are the width of two fingers.

Dave Lawrence, assistant principal of Moorhead High School, said if a teacher or staff member notices a student dressed inappropriately, the student will be asked to change or go home if they don’t have a change of clothes available.

Other schools have similar policies.

Megan Okland, 14, said she once had to change into her gym clothes at school when she was wearing a strapless top.

“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” said Okland, who will be a freshman this fall at Fargo’s Davies High School. “It was covering everything. It was just showing my shoulders.”

For elementary school students, appropriate dress code also means wearing shoes that are suitable for the playground, said Louise Dardis, West Fargo Public Schools assistant superintendent.

Schools also require students to keep backpacks in their lockers as a safety precaution.

Sixteen-year-old Jacob Schlecht of Forman, who was back-to-school shopping at West Acres last week, said he doesn’t have a problem abiding by his school’s dress code.

“We probably wouldn’t let him buy the stuff they don’t allow anyway,” said his father, Nathan Schlecht.