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N. Layton Junior High to adopt dress code

North Layton Junior High, 1100 W. 2000 North, has become the first school in Davis County and likely the first junior high in the state to adopt an official dress code and school uniform policy.

According to North Layton principal John F. Zurbuchen, each household that will have one or more students attending the school next year had the opportunity to vote Thursday for or against the proposed policy.Despite the day's record snowfall, Zurbuchen estimated that 40 to 45 percent of the eligible voters turned out, with 72 percent voting in favor of it.

"It was nice to get an overwhelming majority (vote), Zurbuchen said.

Some 342 households voted in favor of the code, 132 against.

"We're been working on this since September," Zurbuchen said, explaining a school community council had thoroughly studied the issue.

While the Davis County Board of Education approved a district-wide dress policy just 10 days ago, Zurbuchen said the North Layton policy was not required to follow all of its provisions because it predates it.

The major difference is that the North Layton dress uniform policy is not mandatory. The district policy says schools can impose a required dress code, based on a majority of voter approval.

Zurbuchen said North Layton's uniform policy has an opt-out clause. At the first of the school year, parents have the option of exempting their children from wearing a school uniform - if they have a good reason, like a religious-related concern.

However, unnaturally colored hair and visible body piercing, other than ears, are not allowed - among other things.

Zurbuchen said next year's students will soon vote to choose on of three color combinations for their uniforms. The vote will be taken among this year's seventh- and eighth-grade students, plus incoming sixth-graders.

He said North Davis is definitely breaking new ground with this policy. Some other Utah middle schools - with only seventh- and eighth-graders - may have similar codes, but no other junior highs do, Zurbuchen said.

Dress codes/uniforms are such a new issue that little research exists to substantiate benefits, Zurbuchen said. He hopes the policy will have a positive effect on the school's 1,330 students, though.

Research from other U.S. schools with similar policies indicates students usually feel safer, have a better relationship with teachers and have fewer social cliques.

North Layton distributed fliers on the policies to all parents and held several public information meetings on the issues before the vote was taken.

The policy will be reviewed again next February but will not be subject to a new vote for at least two years unless the policy is change, Zurbuchen said.

The required dress will be solid-colored shirts or sweaters, dress-type slacks or solid-colored shorts or skirts that cover three-fourths of the thigh. The color policy does not affect shoes or socks. However, socks must be worn and no sandals are allowed.