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Teachers Stay Classy in the Classroom

School Policies Help Teachers Dress for Success

September 1, 2013
By JOSELYN KING - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

OHIO VALLEY - Shadyside Local Schools Superintendent John Haswell says on these warmer, early days of the school year he is likely to be the only educator in the Shadyside High School building wearing a suit and tie.

There is no dress code for Shadyside's teachers, and Haswell said it really isn't needed.

"We never have had one," he said. "When I was in Bellaire, we had a dress code and the men had to wear ties. But there is such a thing as 'professional casual.'

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Bill Cornforth, drama teacher and speech coach at Wheeling Park High School, wears a suit and tie when he teaches.

"In our buildings, we have no air conditioning," he continued. "It can be over 100 degrees in a classroom, and the only one who wears a tie is me."

The issue a of teacher dress code surfaced in West Virginia classrooms this year after the Lewis County School District instituted a dress code for its teachers that prohibits them from wearing jeans or short skirts.

The American Federation of Teachers opposes dress codes for teachers.

In Brooke County, the board of education also passed a dress code for its teachers last spring, but the move hasn't been met with much opposition and is similar to what is required of students, Superintendent Kathy Kidder said.

The approved measure states "any clothing or accessory that may be considered obscene or offensive may not be worn to school." Clothing containing references to tobacco, drugs or alcohol is banned, as are articles with derogatory messages about race or culture.

Crop tops, tube tops, halter tops and tank tops with thin straps are prohibited, and "shirts/blouses must cover the the entire torso at all times," it is stated in the district's written policy. Flip flops are not permitted, and jeans can only be worn on days designated by the building's principal for a specific purpose.

Teachers in Brooke County mostly do dress professionally, Kidder said.

"But we have so many new people coming in this year, we just wanted a policy in writing so there is no confusion," she added.

There is no specific dress code for teachers in Ohio County Schools, but educators are expected to comply with the school district's "employee code of conduct," according to Superintendent Dianna Vargo.

That code state that all Ohio County Schools employees "shall exhibit professional behavior by showing positive examples of preparedness, communication, fairness, punctuality, attendance, language and appearance," she said.

There is no problem with teachers not dressing professionally, Vargo added.

"All our employees are very respectful," she said. "Any problems would be handled by the principals at the building level."

The Martins Ferry City School District has a dress code in effect for its teachers that bans clothing such as jeans and flip flops, and Superintendent Dirk Fitch said teachers haven't objected to the policy.

The Martins Ferry teachers are permitted to dress in purple to show their school spirit on football Fridays, he noted. And Haswell added Shadyside's teachers can dress in "black and orange" every Friday.

Haswell said he understands the need to show students the importance of professional dress on the jobs.

"But it's a two-edged sword," he continued. "When it's 95 degrees or more in a classroom, (dress codes) are not good."

 
 
 

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