It’s getting pretty rare when I actually can agree with  an editorial at The Des Moines Register, and I agree with editorial board when they wrote last week, “State should let schools try on dress codes for size.”

Having worked with youth most of my adult life and having been a Dean of Students in a private Christian school that didn’t have a uniform policy I can see the value of having them.  It places all kids on an equal playing field, in that youth aren’t singled out if they can’t wear the latest fad.  It also nips the issue of modesty.  Uniforms are pretty inexpensive , and keep attention from being diverted away from why kids are in school to begin with – to learn.

But a robed tyrant has said that school districts don’t have the authority to set dress code parameters basically saying they didn’t meet the criteria in Iowa Code 279.58 that allows schools to have dress codes.  I’m having a hard time understanding how this particular judge to ruled this way when the code says directly:

Gang-related apparel worn at school draws attention away from the school’s learning environment and directs it toward thoughts or expressions of violence, bigotry, hate, and abuse.

The board of directors of a school district may adopt, for the district or for an individual school within the district, a dress code policy that prohibits students from wearing gang-related or other specific apparel if the board determines that the policy is necessary for the health, safety, or positive educational environment of students and staff in the school environment or for the appropriate discipline and operation of the school.

When a board determines that a dress code policy is necessary of the positive educational environment of students then it is legal.  That’s leaves things pretty wide open for school boards to implement a dress code or uniform policy.  Waterloo could certainly argue that that (and I’m sure they did).

Looking at this from a perspective that embraces local control I wonder why this is even an issue at the state level?  Should the state government dictate to local school boards what they can and can’t have in a dress code policy?  I don’t think so.

Cross-posted at American Principles in Action

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