WCHS moves beyond dress code controversy
Woodford County High School Assistant Principal John Darnell said most students have not violated a new dress code since they returned to classes from winter break on Jan. 4. “You’re still going to have kids that get sent home (for dress code infractions) … but it’s not what I would consider to be an immense amount of students who are coming down (to the office because they are) out of dress code,” said Darnell. The new dress code policy was adopted by the high school’s site-based council during a second reading in December. It replaced a policy, which was criticized as being too strict and archaic in an avalanche of social media posts when the 2015-16 school year began last August. The issue was covered by Lexington television stations and national media outlets. Throughout the process of reviewing the former dress code policy, WCHS parents, teachers and students contributed to discussions before a compromise was reached on a new dress code in November. “We applaud everybody who went through this process the right way,” said Darnell. He especially appreciated the students who submitted a dress code proposal to the site-based council and their willingness to compromise on a final policy. “We’ve all moved on. I think that’s the easiest way to put it,” said Darnell. “Now, for us honestly,” he added, “the dress code – it’s old news. We’re moving on, and looking toward what we’re doing next year.” WCHS junior Maggie Sunseri, who worked with the school council and a committee of parents, other students and teachers on a dress code compromise, told The Sun in a telephone interview, “We’ve definitely gotten past it. Everything’s pretty much died down and gotten back to normal.” The new dress code policy allows a student to wear shorts, skirts and dresses that must extend to the shortest dimension of a credit card from the top of the knee. The new policy also allows shirts with necklines that do not droop lower than the shortest dimension of a credit card positioned at the base of the collarbone. “I’m glad that we came to a compromise (on a dress code policy),” said Sunseri, “but I wouldn’t say that I’m happy with the new dress code just because I think it’s pretty much the same dress code as we had before just a little bit more lenient. “I’m glad we didn’t go to uniforms,” which was discussed during committee and site-based council work sessions and meetings. The WCHS site-based council will discuss the new dress code policy after the school year ends. Their review of the policy will include data on how many students were referred to the office for violating the dress code, according to Darnell. He said faculty and administrators will also monitor whether or not the number of violations increases as the weather warms this spring. In "Shame: A Documentary on School Dress Code" that Sunseri made during her sophomore year, she interviewed female peers so they could voice their concerns about the WCHS dress code. She said they spoke to a much broader issue – the messages that school dress codes send to young women and men. Overall, Sunseri described dress codes as a distraction to what should be a school’s primary focus – the education of its students. She addressed a common misconception about the title of her documentary during a meeting last August. “Shame was describing how girls feel when they’re told that their bodies are not okay, and that they have to cover themselves up in order to be seen as respectful and not to distract boys,” said Sunseri, 16.