Henrico public schools employee dress code debate underway

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - The Henrico School Board is debating a new dress code for all teachers and staff. This comes a month after the district adopted a similar policy for students.

The new superintendent says this isn't about fixing a current problem. It's about giving staff a clear understanding of what's expected.

Just two weeks into the new job, and still unpacking boxes, Dr. Pat Russo is already making an impact. The new superintendent is advocating a dress code for all teachers and staff, effective this fall.

"In other systems I've been in, we've always had some guidelines that would dictate how our students dress and how our staff dress," Russo said.

The process actually began in the spring, when employees filled out a survey. The feedback gave way to a new proposal on what teachers and staff "can" and "cannot" wear while on the job, almost all of which would appear to be common sense.

Among the suggestions:

  • Keep the clothing "professional".
  • Nothing tight or skimpy.
  • Dresses no higher than four inches above the knee.
  • Khakis and dress pants: Yes.
  • Short shorts and hats...along with non school affiliated t-shirts: No.
  • Sneakers: Only for Phys Ed teachers.
  • Blue or denim jeans: Absolutely not...despite a strong push from staffers to let them be allowed on Spirit Days.

"You know the ripped jeans. That's just not appropriate for any professional staff member or anyone who's working in a professional organization to wear," Russo said.

Ultimately, enforcement will be up to the top administrators in the schools. A first offense, would lead to a meeting. After that. It's unclear just how severe any punishments would become.

"99.9% of I think all our staff will tell you the guidelines are reasonable, that the guidelines set those expectations that we should have as we model for our kids and for our community," Russo said.

At Thursday afternoon's School Board work session, blue jeans and sneakers got a lot of attention. Staff members will review the proposal. More discussion is possible, and a final vote could take place as early as next month.

You can check out all the earlier feedback, and read the full policy proposal online by clicking here.

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