Tupelo school officials to tighten up on loose clothing

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tupelo school officials to tighten up on loose clothing

TUPELO (AP) — The Tupelo Public School District is doing a bit of belt tightening — at least when it comes to students and the system’s dress code.

The code already prohibits loose clothing on students but starting in the 2008-2009 school year, the district will be out to tighten up on students wearing saggy pants.

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“We already have a policy that addresses that,” Superintendent Randy McCoy said. “As a point of emphasis next year, we will be asking principals to notify parents and students that this is going to be enforced.”

The dress code, and specifically the saggy pants issue, has been a topic of discussion among principals at two recent administrative meetings, McCoy told the five-member Board of Trustees on Tuesday. “It’s just such a widespread issue” that the school board will be putting more emphasis on enforcement of the rule.

Oversized clothing is a safety issue that impedes movement and, McCoy said, can lead to “concealment of items that are against our school rules and policies.”

“Properly fitted pants are fitted at the waist,” he said, with pockets at hip level and without underwear showing.

Many teenage boys and young men favor the loose look made popular in hip-hop music, but girls aren’t excluded.

“What about the low-rider jeans the females are wearing?” McCoy asked. “If their shirts and their pants don’t touch and their underwear is showing, that is just not permissible.”

Principal Mac Curlee at Tupelo High School said students are warned the first time they violate the dress code.

If parents cannot be located to bring a change of clothes, students may be removed from class, he said, noting that “what we want to do is try to keep the students in school.”

While the school system wants to be consistent with its policy in all K-12 schools, the fashion trend is rare in the lower grades.

“Every now and again it happens, but it’s short-lived,” Joyner Elementary School Principal Brenda Johnson said.

The problem also is infrequent at Pierce Street Elementary, where Principal Debbie Davis said saggy pants are “a safety issue, not a fashion issue” because children can trip.