Student Dress Code Policy

Student Dress Code Policy

In prescribing a student dress code, various considerations are part of the process and the purposes underlying such a code. This dress code policy reflects, for instance, a community process led by a committee which involved not only educators, but also parents and students, informed by study, their own discussions, input, and guidance, and also by a survey and informal conversation within the school community that constitutes the Rockingham County Public Schools Division. As a culmination of this extensive process, this dress code prescribes what is expected for student attire and presentation in all schools within the school division. Within its stated boundaries, school leaders will necessarily exercise discretion in construing and applying the provisions of this dress code as part of the curriculum and the teaching that occurs in both spoken and unspoken ways in inculcating desirable values—including dignity, modesty, and humility — with impressionable youth who are preparing for higher and lifelong education and the world of work and citizenship.

The dress and personal presentation of Rockingham County Public Schools students can significantly affect the school environment and individual and collective student focus, academic success, health, safety, and welfare. In an overarching and yet everyday sense in our schools, the school environment has a direct and indirect influence on students, their school, and the entire school community. This dress code also will assist parents and students as they make decisions regarding daily attire and presentation that will contribute to an educationally appropriate, safe, respectful, focused, and healthy learning environment for all students. In doing so, this dress code is expected to support and promote responsible and mature decision-making, reduce the potential for social conflict and peer pressure, avoid sexualization and objectification of all students, teach respectful and civil discourse, and prepare students for the expectations of professional and responsible dress and presentation after they leave Rockingham County Public Schools. This dress code reflects a recognition and conclusion that these and other significant considerations are important in curricular and extracurricular matters, including advancing and reinforcing the Pillars of Character: trustworthiness; respect; responsibility; fairness; caring; and citizenship. As well, in a school division which expects all of its employees to be role models for students, this dress code complements that standard by reinforcing across all facets of the school community a high but reasonable expectation of regard and acknowledgement that education is an earnest process and experience that, while enjoyable, has a seriousness of pursuit that can impact students’ choices and opportunities in later life.

General Dress Code Expectations

In general, student dress is considered appropriate as long as it does not, or foreseeably could not, interfere with the educational process, cause disruption, including by undermining or distracting from the curriculum, threaten or cause harm, or jeopardize or damage school property. In support of these expectations, a student is prohibited from attending school in dress or presentation that is contrary to the dress code reflected in this policy.

Inclusions in Dress Code Expectations

For purposes of this policy and the code reflected in it, the term “dress” includes, for example: clothing; hats; shoes; jewelry; and, any emblem, badge, depiction, symbol, sign, comment, or other items worn or displayed or presented by a student as related to bodily-related attire or accessory. “Dress” does not include any religious symbol or expressive activity by a student which otherwise would not be subject to prohibition or restriction. In furtherance of the considerations and purpose of this policy, the following dress or attire is prohibited:

1. Clothing which exposes undergarments;

2. See-through apparel;

3. Clothing that exposes the midriff, lower back, cleavage, or bare chest;

4. Strapless tops or tops with spaghetti straps;

5. Dresses, skirts, pants, or shorts that are shorter than the student’s mid-thigh;

6. Hats, hoods, or head coverings inside the school building, unless they are required for religious or medical reasons;

7. Sunglasses or other obscuring glasses inside the school building, unless they are required for medical reasons;

8. Spiked accessories or wallet chains;

9. Extremely tight pants worn without clothing which covers the student to mid-thigh, including, but not limited to: yoga pants, leggings, spandex shorts, compression shorts, "jeggings," or tights.

10. Jewelry, including facial or body piercings, that is actually or likely to be disruptive, distracting, or hazardous to the student or other students in the student's presence;

11. Dress that promotes, depicts, or in any way affirms, explicitly or implicitly, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or illegal activity, including gang activity;

12. Dress that promotes, depicts, threatens, or in any way affirms, explicitly or implicitly, violence, profanity, vulgarity, or sexually implicit or explicit messages; and,

13. Dress that promotes or depicts discriminatory messages or practices or that denigrates a particular group of people.


The administrators of each school shall have the discretion to decide on the consequences of a student’s violation of the Dress Code. Recommended dispositions as a guideline are: First Offense: Warning with requested change of clothes and notification to parent. Second Offense: Requested change of clothes, one day of BASE (Behavior Assistance and Support for Education), lunch detention, after school detention or Saturday school and notification of parent. Third Offense: Requested change of clothes, up to three days of BASE (Behavior Assistance and Support for Education), out-of-school suspension or a combination of both and notification of parent. Continued offenses may result in additional BASE (Behavior Assistance and Support for Education), out-ofschool suspension, Poor School Standing, or a change in educational placement.

Administrative Exercise of Discretion

The administrative leadership of each elementary, middle, and high school has the authority, within the boundaries of this policy, to construe, interpret, and apply this policy and determine the appropriateness of student school dress and any consequences, including any discipline. This authority and discretion extends also to making occasional exceptions on a school-wide basis to establish, designate, and allow spirit days and other similar celebrations, while retaining the prerogative to deal with particular items or styles that pose or likely may pose a disruption or threat of disruption, or as other circumstances warrant within the criteria of this policy. The Division Superintendent is authorized, consistent with this policy, to promulgate or issue administrative directives to implement this policy. Such administrative directives may include pictorial depictions to illustrate and define more specifically, within the boundaries of this policy, what is expected and prohibited.