J5: Dress And Grooming

Category J: Students

Procedure J5: Dress And Grooming

The District values the fact that students can express themselves through their choice of clothing and grooming, but at the same time it is important that these be appropriate for the formal school setting. Students should have the ability to express themselves through their clothing options without negatively impacting or interfering with the learning environment.

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 71, Section 82 and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court of 1996 in Pyle v. South Hadley School Committee, affirm that "the right of students to freedom of expression in the public schools of the commonwealth shall not be abridged, provided that such right shall not cause any disruption or disorder within the school.There is no room in the statute to construe an exception for arguably vulgar, lewd, or offensive language absent a showing of disruption within the school.” The language of the law was found to be mandatory.

Articles of clothing which are disruptive to the educational process are generally considered by the District to be those that violate common standards of decency and modesty; which contain sexual references, obscenities, fighting words, references to gangs, drugs or alcohol; or that are commonly understood to be inciting, defaming or demeaning. Extremely brief garments or see-through garments are also not considered appropriate for school. Clothing should fully cover the chest, stomach/midriff and buttocks. More detailed guidelines, appropriate for each school in the district, are outlined in student/family handbooks.

Dress at school should also promote safety and health. To protect feet, shoes must be worn at all times. Coats should not be worn while in the building except when classrooms are determined to be very cold. For use of certain school facilities such as a swimming pool, gymnasium, shop, etc., dress and grooming practices will be prescribed by the teachers responsible for them.

For certain school-related events such as dances, field trips, etc. particular modes of dress are appropriate and may be required.

Compliance with dress and grooming shall be the responsibility of the principal. The principal may call upon staff to assist with maintaining compliance within these guidelines and may designate specific responsibilities.

Violation of these regulations shall be addressed immediately and the cooperation of the student and his/her parent/guardian are expected. If clothing or grooming is considered inappropriate or unsafe by a staff member, the student will be referred to the appropriate administrator. The student will be asked to change, and if necessary, make arrangements for alternate clothing to be delivered to school. Offenses may result in progressive discipline, consistent with the student handbooks and/or at the discretion of the principal. Students may appeal to the appropriate administrator or principal.


Authorizing Document(s)

MGL Chapter 71, Section 82

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 1996 Ruling: Pyle vs. School Committee Of South Hadley, 423 Mass. 283

POLICY JICA: Guide To Dress And Grooming



July 2014