Express Yourself - Not
School Dress Codes: A Failing Grade?
Illustration by Paula Romani
Ah, September: the kids are (finally) back to school. But as you buy the last of the new scissors, folders, and sweaters, make sure to cross pajamas, sunglasses, and hats off the list. Turns out many of the most common items (um, sunglasses?) are prohibited by local school dress codes. Turn to page 36 to find out what school districts from Yonkers to Goldens Bridge deem inappropriate. Here’s a hint: leave the ninja stars at home.
A look at the county’s craziest school dress codes
“School dress code”: it’s a term that conjures images of cardigans, khakis, and Jurassic teachers on knee patrol armed with rulers. Everyone knows the old stereotypes, but some Westchester school districts have defied those clichés with new and improved absurdities.
To begin with, many districts from Mount Vernon to Goldens Bridge share the feeling that clothing should not be “brief.” This supposedly means “short” or “see-through,” but one can’t help appreciating the time component: students should not only wear the right clothes, they should keep them on.
Tuckahoe High School has equally banal rules, but, for our betterment, its website informs that “see-through garments present distractions to the efucational [sic] environment for for [sic] students and staff alike.” Oops. Maybe someone in see-through garments walked by while the site was being edited. Distracting indeed.
Many districts, like Ardsley, prohibit sunglasses, while Rye Neck students can’t wear bathing suits. Apparently, school really isn’t a day at the beach. One hopes these districts at least allow sunscreen. New Rochelle doesn’t allow handkerchiefs, which probably gets messy during cold season. In Irvington, they do allow political buttons, but they dislike heavy jewelry because it “constitutes a threat or danger to the health and safety of students.” Since it’s a free-speech issue, allowing buttons is common, but it doesn’t seem that the rule-cookers at Irvington thought about the pin wars that could break out during primary season. Those things hurt.
As many other districts do, Harrison High School prohibits hats, while Valhalla schools demand that two inches of fabric be visible on shoulders. Farther south, the Eastchester School District asks that hair color and makeup be—among other things—safe and not libelous. Peekskill, which has a specific uniform instead of just a dress code, doesn’t allow pants inside out, large belt buckles, or pajamas.
Mid-thigh shorts and skirts are allowed in Dobbs Ferry, which may seem permissive: mid-thigh basically means a long washcloth. Peekskill parents, expect your children to ask to move to Dobbs soon.
Finally, Yonkers schools mandate that the legs of pants (What is one leg called? A pant?) must be equal in length, and ninja stars are strictly forbidden (thank goodness), but only insomuch as they constitute dangerous jewelry.
Indeed, the sheer weirdness of some of these rules is so polished that you might have the urge to tip your hat to them. Go ahead; just don’t let the principal see you.