Boise seeks feedback on dress code policy changes

The Boise School District is seeking guidance from district patrons on changes to its dress code policy at a series of public meetings in February and March.

The proposed changes would make the dress code — which applies to all schools in the Boise district — more specific.

The current dress code — first adopted in 1997 and last updated in 2021 — bans apparel typical to most policies: clothing related to drugs, alcohol, gangs, pornography or illegal activities. But according to district data, there have been discrepancies in how different Boise schools have monitored and enforced the code.

From 2006-2020, one Boise high school reported only 81 dress code violations, and three schools sit between 100-200 violations. But another high school reported 1,163 violations in that same time period. And across its eight middle schools, the district counted a low of 46 violations and a high of 1,874.

BSD sourced its data from Infinite Campus, the district’s student information system.

And according to 2018 data, violations among Black and Hispanic students were disproportionately higher, while white students saw fewer violations compared to their proportion of the student population. And female students were cited more than male students, despite making up only 48% of the student body.

Vagueness in the district’s current policy could be causing some of these discrepancies.

In a presentation to be given to patrons at the public meetings, the district points to one line as an example of arbitrary language in the policy: “Students’ clothing and grooming shall be appropriate, shall not be revealing, and shall not be a disruption or interference to the educational process.” The clause leaves the dress code open to interpretation.

With its proposed changes, the district hopes to remove arbitrary standards and language, encourage positive student-staff relationships, and limit the policy’s impact on teaching time.

The draft proposed changes include specific language about what can and cannot be worn.

According to the changes, students must wear:

  • A top with non-transparent fabric in the front, back and on the sides under the arms.
  • Pants, sweatpants, shorts, a skirt, a dress, leggings, etc.
  • Shoes.
  • Any item of clothing that is required for a specific course (like closed-toed shoes).

A student may not wear:

  • Violent language or images.
  • Images or overt language depicting drugs, alcohol or any illegal item or activity.
  • Hate speech, profanity, or pornography.

The district will host four stakeholder meetings to discuss the proposed changes, and get input from parents, students and other Boise district patrons.

Find your stakeholder meeting:
– Feb. 15 at North Junior High School
– Feb. 16 at Shadow Hills Elementary School
– Feb. 28 at Borah High School
– March 2 at Timberline High School

Each meeting will run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

If you cannot attend a meeting, but would like to provide feedback, email your concerns to [email protected]

Feedback will be taken to the Boise School Board’s Governance Committee, and the revised policy will be presented to the Board later this spring.

Sadie Dittenber

Sadie Dittenber

Reporter Sadie Dittenber focuses on K-12 policy and politics. She is a College of Idaho graduate, born and raised in the Treasure Valley. You can follow Sadie on Twitter @sadiedittenber and send her news tips at [email protected].

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