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Durham Public Schools ok’s more permissible dress code; hats and hoodies still barred


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DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) — With unanimous consent, Thursday night, the Durham County School Board voted to make major changes to its student dress code. Bra straps and midriffs are now allowed to be visible; Underwear waistbands too, just as long as pants aren’t low enough to show anything more. In fact, most clothes are allowed under the new policy, if “private areas” are covered.

But staff did make one change: Hats and hoodies are still prohibited on students.

“After meetings (with school administrators), the determination of administration was that they not be recommended to the board… Hats and hoodies will not be allowed,” DPS Chief of Staff Tanya Giovanni explained to the board before the vote.

DPS is aiming to be more inclusive, more respectful and reflective of its students; an outside the box approach to traditional dress codes that critics argued unfairly targeted students who identify as female and students of color.

Thursday’s move follows years of controversial back-and-forth over the district’s dress code. In February 2016, there were protests outside Durham’s School for Creative Studies as students and parents rallied against the dress code after they said students were barred from wearing African head wraps for Black History Month.

“This is not right. This is not fair. We will not stand for it,” one student told the crowd through a bullhorn.

And last year, Nicole Pyles, a 16-year old Hillside High softball player, was forced to cut off her braided hair beads mid-game when the umpire ruled the hairstyle a violation.

“I’m proud that I have this kind of hair. But I realize that having hair does really tear you down sometimes,” Pyles said at a DPS event earlier this year, celebrating Black hair.

The new policy explicitly allows traditionally black hairstyles, including locs and braids, and traditional African hair coverings, like the geles students protested for five years ago, are now permitted too.

The new dress code, just like the old one, still bans clothing depicting violence, drugs, profanity and other offensive material. It also assumes whatever a child wears to school is approved by their parents. So, it puts the responsibility back on DPS families to read the new rules.

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