Bob Esliger, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ assistant superintendent, makes a presentation to the district education committee on school attire expectations on Feb. 6. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo school district using dress code as a teaching tool

District focusing on codes of conduct rather than “thou shalt not wear” lists

Updated dress code guidelines for Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools will seek to educate rather than shame students.

The school district introduced its Student Dress Code Policy in 2001 which defined appropriate dress as free of references to objectionable material i.e. alcohol, illicit substances, gangs, discriminatory and racist ideologies, sex, swear words and violence. The new student attire expectation administrative procedure still adheres to that, but also seeks to educate without shaming and guide schools as they form their own dress codes and codes of conduct.

Bob Esliger, district assistant superintendent, told trustees at their Feb. 6 education committee meeting that the district sought something that didn’t marginalize any group based on race, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, religion, cultural observance, household income and body size or type.

“We wanted to permit students to make their own decisions about attire and that usually causes a gasp in educators, in people who work in schools because, ‘Wow, could you imagine if we left it to kids to come to school with whatever it is they wanted to wear?’ Well, we’re not opening that door,” said Esliger. “This is a joint prospect with parents … however, we do want to seize the moment as an educational moment if the student comes with something that doesn’t fit in with the school’s code of conduct.”

Esliger said there isn’t a “thou shalt not wear” list of certain items of clothing, but rather school codes of conduct. Under the procedure, intervention will be treated as a minor incident. Students will be involved in problem solving, creating plans that comply with expectations and will have opportunities to find respectful alternatives, states the guidelines.

“Teaching school attire expectations through the code of conduct have the effect of increasing personal and social responsibility and a positive school culture,” said Esliger. “We are an educational institution. We teach, so we don’t post a list of rules on the wall and wait for someone to break the rule and then [punish]. That’s what we’re trying to get away from. Let’s get ahead of this, be preventative and we’ll teach the expectation.”

Stephanie Higginson, trustee, expressed concern about use of the word decorum in the administrative procedure. There is always a difference of opinion and she wanted to ensure schools know what is meant by decorum.

“Last year there was an incident in a school, where a young female student came in dressed essentially as what a pop star was wearing in a [popular music video] and her teacher was uncomfortable. Another female teacher was told to talk to her and tell her it was totally inappropriate what she was wearing and asked her to cover up and so when students are receiving one message from pop culture and another message in school, I just want to make sure that we’re really careful on that line and creating a place where that can be addressed,” said Higginson.

The dress code guidelines are considered an administrative procedure and do not need to be adopted by the board.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at car dealership in Campbell River turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Horgan heckled as gas prices sit at record high, could go up more

Premier John Horgan blames refiners, not taxes

Home care transition could exacerbate worker shortage: Seniors advocate

Advocate fears impact of eight-hour shift model on an industry under stress

Tofino beckons Trudeau back for Easter vacation

Environmental group hopes latest Pacific Rim vacation inspires change in prime minister

Many teens unaware if they’re vaping nicotine or not

Health Canada survey finds many youth are unaware of the risks of using nicotine products

VIDEO: ‘Alarm bells’ raised by footage allegedly from B.C. pig farm, SPCA says

PETA released video Wednesday showing dead and injured piglets next to nursing piglets

Police charge 27-year-old male in Langford shooting

Justin Lemmen was arrested shortly after the shooting after crashing into a truck

Good Samaritans rescue Sidney senior trapped under mobility scooter

78-year-old broke her pelvis and spent a week in hospital after the accident

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Woman who was chased and tackled after break-in sentenced on Vancouver Island

Natasha Geraldine Harris, 28, was sentenced to time served and will be released from jail

Most Read