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Riverbend principal says cover up, pull ‘em up
Camisoles are in, cleavage is out at Riverbend High School.
Likewise, belts are in and sagging pants are out.
Riverbend Principal Troy Wright sent a message to parents last week spelling out the Spotsylvania County high school’s dress code.
It includes such details as:
Skirts/shorts/dresses cannot be shorter than 3 inches above the knee.
Pants/shorts must sit at the hips. They must not sag so that undergarments can be seen.
No cleavage. The chest area needs to be covered from armpit to armpit. If a scoop neck or v-neck shirt is below the armpit then a camisole or undershirt must be worn.
Wright said he issued the information along with the new bell schedule Thursday so parents would have it well ahead of the first day of school.
Spotsylvania students return to classes on Aug. 21, and Wright said he plans to begin the new year with stricter and more consistent enforcement of the dress code.
Spotsylvania has a dress code for students in its student Code of Conduct, which is available online and is distributed every school year.
The Code of Conduct states that school administrators have authority for enforcing it and parents are required to “work in partnership with school administrators to maintain a safe and orderly school environment,” which includes attire.
Principals have permission to add to the general dress code to confront concerns specific to their buildings, schools spokeswoman René Daniels said.
Wright said his dress code is a bit stricter than last year’s, but its precision is aimed at helping staff carry it out consistently. He plans to have a group of employees at entrances each morning to enforce the code.
The reasoning comes from the opening line of the message he distributed: “Student dress should reflect the notion that school is a place of business where student learning is the highest priority.”
Peter Pfotenhauer, president of the Spotsylvania Education Association, said the Riverbend dress code is consistent with what’s being done across the county. He welcomed increased enforcement efforts.
He said dress-code violations are a tricky thing for a teacher to deal with, especially with a student of the opposite gender. Having principals taking the lead resolves that problem and allows teachers to focus on instruction, he said.
“Me, personally, I’d like to see the county go with uniforms,” said Pfotenhauer, who teaches at Ni River Middle School.
He said that would resolve many issues associated with attire, such as bullying and teasing when students don’t wear popular brands or styles.
Wright said he looked at the dress code for other schools and divisions before tweaking his school’s. He said his is closely modeled after one in place at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford County.
The Stafford school system requires that skirts, shorts or dresses be no shorter than the extended tip of the longest finger with the student’s arms hanging naturally at the sides. Cleavage is not permitted, nor is showing the midriff. Undergarments cannot be displayed at any time.
Fredericksburg city school officials could not be reached for comment on the system’s dress code Friday. The “student conduct” link on the system’s website says a student’s dress and appearance “shall not be such that it causes disruption, distracts others” but does not list specific guidelines.
Riverbend’s Wright said he’s trying to ensure an environment conducive to learning.
Students who arrive at school improperly dressed will be asked to change. If they don’t have suitable clothing, they will remain in in-school suspension until a parent arrives with different clothing.
To handle emergencies, the school will keep on hand some T–shirts, shorts and sweat pants so that none of Riverbend’s Bears will be distracted in the classroom.
Reporter Lindley Estes contributed to this story.
Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972