QUESTION: constitutionality of school uniforms in public schools

question / pregunta: 

Our local public school will be enforcing a mandatory "Campus Wear" uniform policy this year, for grades 7-12. The restrictions include socks and undershits (solid color socks and white t-shirt, no muscle undershirts). No embellishments are permitted. The size, color, length, style (no patch pockets, must have belt loops) and even the type of fabric are dictated for the pants. If a student fails to obide by the new restrictions, they will be sent home to change into the full uniform (including a mandatory black or brown belt of not excessive length, and receive an unexcused absence (F for the day). Since when can a public school deny a minor their education based on what they wear? How is it the school's authority to dress our young adults? What about skirts? How can the idea of "professional appearance" equal polo shirts and khaki pants? This sounds like Walmart clothes, not Lawyers attire. Is it constitutionally legal for a public school to restrict the clothing of a student (right down to their underwear) and do they have the authority to deny them an education based on their compliance? SEE this policy site: -a concerned parent from Sandusky Ohio


According to this page from The Clearinghouse on Educational Policy and Management (formerly ERIC Clearinghouse), the current law in Ohio is as follows:

Dress Codes/Uniforms: Local boards may adopt dress codes or uniform policies under the conditions that principals, staff, and parents are given the opportunity to offer suggestions and comments; parents receive six months’ notice before a specific uniform is required; a plan for helping low-income families obtain uniforms is part of the policy; and students who participate in a nationally recognized youth organization are allowed to wear that organization’s uniform on days that the organization has a scheduled activity."

You can find the relevant section of the Ohio Code here.

The Clearinghouse will provide other web resources in addition to the above citation if you use the search function at their site - try searching "dress code". You may also find some useful information using the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) site using a similar search strategy.

The Education Commission of the States has some research papers and an overview of the issues at their site at this link.

The law firm Modrall Spelling has posted an article citing much of the case law relevant to the constitutionality issue through 1999.

Also, your local library may have access to databases such as EbscoHost, where a search using terms “dress code” “school” and “constitutional” will find more information on the subject.