Should Teachers Have a Dress Code?

Some parents in South Orange County believe their children's instructors don't always dress appropriately for school.

Should teachers have a dress code? Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo
Should teachers have a dress code? Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo
Anna Marie Hanks of San Clemente moved about a year ago from Virginia and right away noticed a number of differences in her second-grader's school. Among other things, the teachers dress inappropriately.

"Some of our teachers dress like they are going to the club," she said at Wednesday night's superintendent’s forum. Hanks wanted to know if the Capistrano Unified School District had a dress code.

Superintendent Joseph Farley said the district did not, but if he were in charge -- which got a chuckle; he is the head honcho -- he'd institute one. He, for one, hates to see teachers in flip flops.

He asked if the other parents there agreed teachers could use a dress code. They did.

But it's a matter of law, Farley said. The teachers have their freedom of expression. 

Hanks pointed out that the students don't necessarily enjoy the same freedom.

"If our high schoolers have to have a dress code, I think the teachers have to lead by example," she said.

A USA Today report found in 2012 that several public school districts across the nation are implementing a dress code, everything from prohibiting jeans to covering up tattoos to banning spaghetti straps. 

Prompted by that report, the Sacramento Bee checked districts around the capital and discovered many had dress codes, though most were fairly vague, requiring professional attire.


fact checker January 18, 2014 at 01:06 PM
Homer, are we to assume you have no problem with the way teachers dress, as long as they are young and attractive?
nobody January 18, 2014 at 02:19 PM
You are right fc, I'm a mom, and I personally don't care about how teachers and/or parents dress for curriculum night, I agree that is not OK that an attractive female teacher is showing a little too much to a bunch of teenage students, but this is the exception, not the rule, and it can be fixed without any bureaucracy.
Sonny Morper January 19, 2014 at 12:40 PM
As a principal, retired, for 28 years, "dress for success" is a good motto and the style should fit the classroom. Expect teachers on their feet all day to dress in comfortable shoes, tennis shoes, for P.E., for sure. The more business type look is more appealing but dressing like you are going to church is not necessary. Women's styles usually get the most attention over time. High heels, nylons and dress or skirts were the norm when I taught. Shorter skirts and pant suits soon became the style, men wore sport coats and always a tie. School administrators, including women, have generally maintained a more conservative business look,though suits have gone the way of cotton slacks particularly with middle and high school educators modeling spirit shirts and other school labeled clothing. Today, any teacher is general accepted when wearing less formal school clothes, in fact they seem to add to student school spirit when they do wear the school emblemed items. The sexy look of provocative clothes has no place in the school business, but the look is in the eye of the beholder and many times in the negotiated contract. Where today's cleavage look was out when I started teaching, today a sensible approach is to ask whether it detracts from ones ability to teach or administer with the greatest positive effect or is the " look" detracting from a great educator becoming exceptionally great. Tongues will wag among our adolescent youth with little provocation and certainly among their parents. Better to portray the competent, highly thought of professional educator who is working to make the school distinguished than known for unnecessary, unfortunate, and derisive behind the back comments that only bring contempt to the profession. The chances are better for success and higher performing schools when everyone dresses for success including students, parents who come to the school, and most important those who are there to educate. P.S. Leave the flip flops at home, everyone.
Carol January 23, 2014 at 03:47 PM
Perhaps the teacher need to wear school uniforms too?
nobody January 23, 2014 at 04:02 PM
lol CHK! The "former playboy bunny" middle school teacher will be happy with your idea!


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