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Running head: GROUP PROJECT

Group Project for Education 2410 Wendy Morse Special Education Provisions Staci Cobabe School Law & Court Cases Matthew McGrath School Dress Code Requirements Benjamin Shild Introduction of Situation Kyle Dumas Compiler & Power Point Salt Lake Community College 03/12/2013


Carrie, a seventh grade girl, dresses inappropriately and has, on multiple occasions, been sent home by the administration to change. Carrie is also a Special Education student. The parents of other children have complained about Carrie's wardrobe choices, and Carries parents believe their daughter should be allowed to wear anything she likes. The parents are suing the school. What should the school do? There are many components to be considered which could potentially affect the outcome of Carrie's parents case against the school. Are there components of Carrie's disability that contribute to her clothing decisions? Are other girls at school dressing in a similar manner to Carrie, and are they being sent home to change as well? Does Carries choice of clothing violate the school dress code? Is the school counter-suing Carrie's parents for failing to follow the dress code and standards of conduct? All of these must be taken into consideration, but if Carrie is in violation of the schools dress code, the likely outcome of the case would be in favor of the school. Special consideration must be made when taking disciplinary action against a student with disabilities whom is a part of the special education program. The state rule says a student who is causing a serious disruption to other students may be removed from school for up to ten days during a school year, but if the behavior persists several actions must be taken before removing the student for additional days. After the ten day period, adequate educational services must be provided for the student with disabilities. If the issue cannot be resolved by the student or parents after disciplinary action has exceeded the ten day limit, school personnel may prepare for a change of placement for the student. Once the ten day limit has been reached the students IEP team must meet to consider

GROUP PROJECT whether or not the students behavior is a direct result of their disability and or the students

behavior is a result of the IEP not being implemented. If the behavior was determined not to be a result of the students disability or failure to implement the IEP, a change of placement will be filed and the student will be assigned to a suitable alternative educational option. It is within the schools right to ensure a safe learning environment for all students, free of serious and ongoing disruption, but when disruption occurs by a student who has an IEP, special considerations must be made concerning their education. If school personnel and the students IEP team follows the rules and procedures set by The State Office of Education, the school may not be held liable for obtaining a change of placement and removing the student from school. In this case, Carrie has never been suspended for her dress. Yes, her disability must be taken into consideration, but if her dress is deemed detrimental to the learning environment, the school still has the right to take disciplinary action against her, as long it is within the parameters of special education procedures. Major school districts all have strictly defined dress code policies that address everything from jewelry, hair and grooming to the students attire. Disagreements about these mandates of physical appearance spawn from rights provided in the first amendment, with some disagreements reaching the Supreme Court. Rulings towards disagreements regarding freedom of expression in schools are decided upon basic tenets of interference and disregard for rights of others- if the actions or expressions of one create interference with the schools goals and objectives or beleaguer peers it is deemed offensive and inappropriate (Cambron-McCabe, McCarthy, Thomas, 2009). Upon students entry of a public education institution, typically, an agreement stating that the student will adhere to the conduct rules of the school is signed, and students throughout history grant some control of their first amendment rights to the school

GROUP PROJECT district to which they belong (Cambron-McCabe, McCarthy, Thomas, 2009). Local school districts vary slightly on respective dress codes, however general and fundamental codes of conduct stay constant from district to district. Jordan School District has a blanket statement in their district handbook, however each school in their district elaborates on

the basic statement provided. This statement outlines dress code as wearing clothing respectful of the learning environment that does not distract or disrupt the educational environment (Jordan School District Policy AA419). West Jordan High School- a member of Jordan School District elaborates on this simple statement by enforcing a policy of no suggestive clothing, by either immodesty or lewd graphics on apparel (West Jordan High Student Handbook 2012). Canyons School Districts dress code statement describes an expectation of all students to follow their outlined policies, asking for no inappropriate graphic displayed on any student possession (backpack, water bottles, etc.). Students wearing clothes with holes in them cannot cover the holes with leggings- this is still considered a violation of policy, as well as any immodest apparel similar to West Jordan Highs dress code policy (Butler Middle School Dress Code Policy) Highland High School, a member of Salt Lake School District stipulates no vulgar or offensive clothing is to be worn at school, as well as clothing bearing studs or gang related insignias. Apparel considered immodest or provocative, made of see through material, or failing to cover students underwear is unacceptable and in violation of school dress code (Highland High School Student Handbook, 2012). In Carries case, it is likely that her district and school have similar guidelines regarding the dress of their students. If her dress is inappropriate enough that other students parents are filing complaints, she is probably violating that dress code. This would absolutely justify the actions of the school in sending her home.

GROUP PROJECT In the state of Utah, there have been several cases involving the enforcement of dress

code. In our scenario, the parents do not want to make their daughter comply with the dress code. There is ample case law upholding school dress codes, particularly when the student, or parent, has no rational objection to the code. In Blau v. Fort Thomas School District, a 2005 case from the 6th Circuit, it was ruled that a student must comply with a reasonable dress code policy where her only objection was that she didnt like the clothes required by the policy. In this particular case, the student claimed she should be able to wear whatever she feels she looks good in. However, the court found no need to uphold her fashion sense. Students do not have a First Amendment right to wear whatever they like simply because they like it (USOE, 2006). For our scenario, this means that the parents of the offending student cannot sue the school or school district for violating their daughters First Amendment right to express herself in the way she dresses. Furthermore, in 2008, Bryan Bowles, the Superintendent of Schools in Utah, issued a memorandum that stated the requirement of all schools and districts to publish notice of important policies and procedures that affect the rights of students in their student and employee handbooks, folders, and registration materials. One of the policies to be outlined was that of consequences for the disruption of school operations through various violations. One of the violations discussed was dress code violation. The memorandum stated that the following information should be issued. Disruption Of School Operations: Students may be suspended, transferred to an alternative placement, expelled, referred for police investigation, and/or prosecuted for any school-related conduct that creates an unreasonable and substantial disruption or risk of disruption of a class, activity, program, or other function of the school, including but not limited to: frequent, flagrant, or willful disobedience; defiance of school authority; criminal activity; fighting; noncompliance with school dress code; possession of contraband (i.e., drug paraphernalia, pornography, mace, pepper spray, laser pen, chains, needles, razor blades, bats and clubs);or the use of foul, profane, vulgar, harassing, or

GROUP PROJECT abusive language. (Bowles, 2008) For our scenario, this means that the Carrie can be suspended, transferred to an alternative school, or expelled for her failure to comply with school rules. In conclusion, Carrie and her parents have the right to sue the school to let her dress any way she likes, but the outcome of the case will not be in their favor. Carries parents have no other reason to file the lawsuit, except for their argument that it makes her look good. This would not be considered the rational objection needed to win the case. It is important to also

consider that Carrie has never officially been suspended for her dress, only sent home. As long as her time missed from school adds up to less than ten days, the school has every right to continue sending her home, even as a special education student. Once her time missed equals or exceeds the ten day stipulation of special education law, then Carries IEP must be reviewed and alternative education programs provided. Schools will never completely stop students from violating dress codes. Some students will always wear what they want to, even if that means being suspended or sent home for their dress. Trying to prevent or stop every student from breaking that dress code would be like trying to stop a tornado before it happens. The only way to entirely stop dress code violations would be to implement school uniforms, which could be another paper all-its-own. As long as schools have clearly stated dress codes that students and parents agree to before attending, and enforce them fairly and equally throughout the school, they should be safe from lawsuits and legal actions taken by parents like Carries.


References Bowles, Bryan. (2008) Administrative Memo #28/04:29:08 B Statement Of Nondiscrimination And Notice Of Policies To Be Published In Student And Employee Handbooks, Folders, And Registration Materials For The 2008-2009 School Year. Retrieved from Butler Middle School (2012). Dress Code: School Dress, Grooming, and Appearance. Cambron-McCabe, N. H., McCarthy, M. M., & Thomas, S. B. (2009). Legal Rights of Teachers and Students (2nd Ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Highland High School (2012). Policies and Procedures. Highland High School (2012). Student Handbook. Jordan School District (2013). Policy Manual. Least Restrictive Behavioral Interventions Guidelines. (n.d.). Retrieved from Utah State Office of Education. 2006. Utah School Law Update. January 2006 Newsletter. Retrieved from West Jordan High School (2012). Student Handbook.