Wednesday, August 31, 2011

School Dress Codes and the Right of California Parents to Opt Out of Uniform Requirements

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Earlier this week, a parent allegedly punched and injured an elementary school principal in Stockton, California.  According to the individuals interviewed in a Fox 40 (KTXL) video (see video below), this was supposed to be because of a t-shirt the student wore.  Apparently the parent thought her son was being targeted based on race.  I cannot comment on any of the alleged facts in the matter, BUT can discuss dress codes, opting out of them, and even gang-related apparel.

First, per California Education Code section 35183, schools may implement a dress code and may impose a requirement that students wear a uniform to school.  If a school chooses to go the uniform route, they are to provide no less than six months notice of the proposed change.  They are also to provide some sort of means by which low income families can afford the uniforms.

If a family does not want to have their child wear a uniform they may "opt out" of the uniform requirement.  How they do this is not specified in the code, but a district is required to outline just how a parent may opt out in their board policies.  Additionally, a student is not to be penalized in any way for not participating.

The school or district may also prohibit "gang-related apparel," but is required, per Education Code 32282, to define just what "gang-related apparel" is in their comprehensive school safety plan.  Per section 32282:  

The definition [of gang related apparel] shall be limited to apparel that, if worn or displayed on a school campus, reasonably could be determined to threaten the health and safety of the school environment.

If a parent has a concern over the dress code, they may want to review the school dress codes, and the opt out options.

Here's the video regarding the whole Stockton situation:



Best,
Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-444-9064
Fax: 916-444-1209
Website: http://www.edlaw4students.com/



Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page [http://edlaw4students.blogspot.com/]. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

2 comments:

  1. Michelle, do you have any idea how the uniform debate plays out in the context of a CA Charter School? Are they required to offer a clear opt-out just as CA public schools must? My understanding is that they are independent of most of the ED code and therefore 35183 doesn't directly apply, but since it's ultimately an issue of free speech and expression it seems they'd be foolish not to at least comply with the same standards.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.