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A new dress code for Jordan schools?

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Belly shirts, strappy tops, skimpy shorts — these aren't your mother's school clothes.

But they're being worn by a good portion of high school girls, be it to French class or the football game after school.

"The immodesty definitely is a problem," said Krissi Christiansen, Riverton High student body president. "I'm sure with guys, they're thinking crazy thoughts in their heads" when in class with scantily clad girls.

The Jordan Board of Education wants students, including boys with wild-colored hair and pierced faces, to dress more modestly and low-key for school.

It has commissioned a committee of parents, students and teachers to study the issue. Tuesday, the committee, which studied legal cases and spoke to schools across the country, presented a few ideas:

The board could ban insignias that are crude, sexually suggestive or depict drugs or alcohol; hair colors and styles so extreme they disrupt class; spaghetti straps, midriffs and other clothing that reveals the cleavage or upper thigh.

Administrators would enforce the rules without turning teachers into fashion police under the proposal, perhaps by using safety, health and furthering educational goals as guidelines.

But some school board members want the committee to re-examine stricter rules on piercings, tattoos, skirt lengths and hair color, for consistency if nothing else. They also want a legal review of the policy, as recommended by the committee, to ensure it protects students' free speech.

"They need to look like they're going to school, not playing outside," board member Jane Callister said.

"People now are substituting the words 'respect' and 'etiquette' for the word 'rights,' " said colleague Arlen Ekberg, adding a skirt that hits above the knee is too short.

But committee member and Riverton High parent Joy Stirland questioned specifically restricting hair color or styles. "Who's to say what color is not appropriate?"

South Jordan Middle School teacher Julie Webb noted a recent activity in which her students worked in groups. One of the more productive groups included a girl with earrings galore and a boy with bright blue hair. There's no way those students' fashions could have been considered an educational distraction, she said.

But another time, a boy swallowed his tongue stud in class, and Webb had to escort him to the office.

"We're walking a tightrope" in creating policy, Webb said. "A good share of the time, these kids are on task." The committee will meet again to address the board's concerns.


E-mail: jtcook@desnews.com