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Ogden board to take look at teachers’ attire

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The Ogden Board of Education is expected to examine the way teachers dress for the job — an idea explored in other Utah school districts in recent years.

The Murray Board of Education in 2003 set a dress policy for teachers after board members complained about the sloppy attire of a few. The policy bans staff, including bus drivers, from wearing blue jeans except on spirit or dress-down days. It also directs employees to dress for the day's work in a way that is "professional and distinguishable from the dress and attire of students."

"I haven't heard anecdotally (the policy has) made a difference in terms of respect shown to staff and faculty," district personnel director Martha Kupferschmidt said. "But I can say I've heard less concern expressed from the Board of Education or district administrators on the appearance of teachers. So one might say the policy has had some impact."

The Ogden school board is expected to look into teacher dress, though nothing yet is formalized, Ogden School District spokeswoman Debbie Hefner said.

"There might be some concern just about how some teachers are perceived to dress," she said.

One board member questioned as inappropriate cropped pants, khaki shorts, T-shirts and sandals on some teachers, The Associated Press reported.

District policies vary statewide.

Iron District in 2001 set teacher dress policy banning visible tattoos, body piercings other than earrings, and blue jeans except on school-designated days. It also requires P.E. teachers to put on pants and a school-logo shirt before teaching a regular classroom course.

Although new to the school, Canyon View High School principal Steve Burton believes the dress code makes a difference.

"It definitely has an impact on students and how well students react to the teachers in the classroom," Burton said. "It gives a sense of professionalism. In a school where we try so hard to develop the respect teachers need, it plays an important part."

School districts including Ogden and Davis urge teachers to dress appropriately. Granite District has included "professional appearance and behavior" in teacher evaluations.

Salt Lake City School District has no specific dress code for teachers; Salt Lake Teachers Association President Elaine Tzourtzouklis hopes it stays that way.

"Our teachers are professionals. They know how to dress. If there's a situation with one or two teachers, we'll go in and do anything we can to help," she said. "If (the district should) want us to wear uniforms, they will have to pay for them."

E-mail: jtcook@desnews.com