Revised dress code asks for less cling

Parents question middle school's new restriction on yoga pants, leggings, and other form-fitting attire for girls

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  • Yoga pants like this must be worn with a fingertip-length top layer, according to Dingman-Delaware's revised dress code.

"Well what is left to wear to school? I wonder if they ever go to the mall and look out what clothing is in style and being sold in EVERY STORE. Leggings, Jeggings, skinny jeans, pencil skirts, jeans and sweaters with holes and yoga pants."
Crystal Rudy Boby

By Jerry Goldberg and Hope Franz

— Some Dingman parents are sounding off about a new dress code that affects only girls in Dingman-Delaware Middle School.

“Without starting a war, being negative or rude, has anyone had their daughter called down for outfits?” Suzanne Dreher asked on the group Facebook page Dingmans Ferry/Milford Housewives.

This post launched a string of almost 200 comments from other mothers. Many said the school should have sent a letter home at the end of the last school year, before they bought new clothes that can no longer be returned or exchanged. Others thought the dress code was targeting girls while allowing boys to dress as they please.

"Well what is left to wear to school?" Crystal Rudy Boby asked. "I wonder if they ever go to the mall and look out what clothing is in style and being sold in EVERY STORE. Leggings, Jeggings, skinny jeans, pencil skirts, jeans and sweaters with holes and yoga pants. Well since we cannot send our children in anything sold in the stores that we shop at maybe they can supply us with clothing and a list of what we can wear before we shop!"

Other mothers said girls needed better parental guidance when picking out school clothes.

"The main problem is most parents allow their kids to wear shorts with their ass hanging out, boobs popping out, skin tight low cut whatever, and I am talking about young girls!" posted Jenafer Boone. "I’ve seen 8 year olds dressed in tube tops and short shorts! Then we wonder why some HS kids are creating an issue for every girl they did not just start dressing like this overnight. A parent has to buy these clothes for them so I have an idea, say 'no' to your kid, be a parent not a friend!"

Bill Greenlaw, president of the Delaware Valley School Board, said the dress code was revised because tight and form-fitting pants posed a problem last school year. "Therefore, the middle school adjusted their dress code policy to include yoga pants," he said.

School administrators dismissed the Facebook buzz as rumor they've been able to dispel.

Principal James Mitchell said only six or seven parents called him or the vice principal, Brian McCarthy, about the dress code, which they said was reasonable.

Mitchell said yoga pants were simply included in the revised policy, but not banned. The policy states that tight or form-fitting pants and skirts, such as spandex yoga pants or leggings may be worn, as long as they accompanied by a fingertip-length shirt or skirt that provides sufficient coverage.

Mitchell, a father of two girls, said he understands the frustration of shopping for appropriate clothing while adhering to the latest fashions. He asks parents to understand what the school is trying to accomplish.

"Reminding students about the policy over morning announcements was our way to promote a positive start to the school year," he said. "It was not intended to embarrass or humiliate anyone."

No inspections, school says

Mitchell said the school has a handbook that details proper attire for both boys and girls.

"The handbook has been in use for many years, and the only change this year has been in relation to the wearing of spandex skirts or leggings and yoga pants. We have 652 kids, and the other day only 12 were called down to the office, which means 640 were dressed properly for school. Today there were none called down.”

A child called down for dress code reasons is sent to the school nurse’s office, Mitchell said. The nurse decides whether the child's clothes are appropriate.

And it was not always girls at the center of dress code controversies, he said.

“A few years ago it was parents of boys who were up in arms as we did not want boys wearing jeans that were so low their boxer shorts were showing,” said Mitchell.

McCarthy said the rumor that children are being asked to stand for morning attire inspection is absolutely false.

“We only made two announcements relating to wearing proper school attire, and no child gets inspected or humiliated in any way," McCarthy said. "No school official went room to room inspecting the children.”

Dreher told the Courier that her daughter "had to spend 40 minutes in the office while the school called me to bring other clothes for her. That’s 40 minutes of her education that was lost.”

She went on to say: “I can’t help it if the boys are pervies and are always looking at the girls.”

She said she wished the school didn’t wait until the first day of the new school year to inform parents of the new prohibitions.

“I do all the shopping for my daughters and buy appropriate clothes, which do include leggings and skinny jeans," she said. "This is what all the stores sell and what girls want to wear.”

Dreher says 10th grade girls dress inappropriately for school, wearing skin tight shirts, cropped shirts, and pants extending only to their belly buttons.

“I should have been notified before I went out and spent $1,200 on clothes for my kids," she said. "My eighth-grade 13-year-old daughter has to wear a top that goes down to the crease of her thigh. You can’t even find them in stores."

John Bell, the district superintendent, said staff "emphasized appropriate dress for an educational environment from day one this year. With 650 students in the school, times five days of school last week, means there were over 3,000 opportunities for kids to dress appropriately and less than 20 kids were sent to the office for not doing so. That says a lot about the great kids we have."

McCarthy said Delaware Valley Middle School uses the same handbook as Dingman-Delaware.

“We take pride in our school and are productive in providing a very academic atmosphere," he said. "Everything we do is to provide a positive educational experience for the children."

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