Elkhorn schools adopt dress code
With the exception of flip-flops, the dress code for employees of the Elkhorn Area School District was approved with little concern or controversy.
"We consulted with the teacher association ahead of time," Superintendent Gregory Wescott said. "There were initial questions, but no complaints."
One of the questions was whether flip-flops would violate the code.
"As I toured our five buildings, I notice the use of flip-flops during warm weather," Wescott said. "That was one issue we could not negotiate. The insurance company is really down on flip-flops for safety reasons, so we had to go with a no on that one."
For the most part, the one-page dress code is a document driven by common sense, Wescott said.
"It was handled in the same way the district approaches all issues," he said. "We talk it over and apply a common sense approach."
The district board members Monday unanimously adopted the dress code.
The Elkhorn employee dress code is based on three points: business casual, approved district spirit or logo wear and no flip-flops or thong-style beach shoes.
Employees are expected to dress in a manner consistent with the responsibilities of their profession that communicates to students a pride in personal appearance. Hairstyle and dress should not disrupt the educational process or cause a health or safety problem, according to the policy.
"In short," Wescott said, "good professional judgment is expected. That's just a common sense approach we all agree with."
The employee dress code is enforced by building principals, Wescott said.
The dress code issue is not proceeding as smoothly in Janesville.
A draft proposal has been debated in Janesville since mid-September. The four-page proposal is more specific that Elkhorn's code. For example, while Elkhorn calls for "business casual," Janesville's proposal lists specific dress such as collared shirts, khakis and women's skirts "of modest length."
Janesville's proposal bans flip-flops and beach shoes but goes on to provide a detailed description of acceptable shoes.
"Employees should wear shoes that provide support and protection. Athletic type shoes may be worn but must be in good condition without tears or stains. Dress sandals may also be worn," the proposed Janesville policy reads.
Janesville Superintendent Karen Schulte recently defended the proposal's specificity at a committee meeting. Janesville's current dress code simply requires "appropriate" attire.
"I think we owe it to our leaders to give them something substantial so they know what to enforce," Schulte said.
On a recent visit to 10 schools, she said, she noticed flip-flops, sweatpants and other attire she found inappropriate for professionals.
No consensus emerged from the recent committee meeting in Janesville, and no date has been set for future discussion of the issue.