West Virginia school board approves employee dress code banning blue jeans and shorts

Despite opposition from teachers, WBOY 12 reports, the Lewis County Board of Education (LCBOE) voted unanimously at its July 22 meeting to ban employees from wearing blue jeans, faded jeans, and shorts. LCBOE President Paul Derico said the board wanted to make both the teachers and public happy.

“We’ve had a lot of comments, or at least I have personally, and that comment is, ‘I’m glad you board members are finally doing something about the way the teachers dress,’” Derico said. “I think we are trying to be considerate of the teachers and the public at the same time.”

Jeff Blaydes, the lawyer representing the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), said that it will most likely file a lawsuit against LCBOE and that the dress code violates the constitutional rights of the teachers.

In a June 25  report on the teacher dress code, WBOY 12 said that teachers and representatives from AFT voiced strong opposition to the proposal at the board’s June 24th meeting.  That night, the LCBOE voted unanimously to table the matter, and discuss it further.  “Everything that we have says that they have exceeded their authority, that they cannot legally adopt a dress code,” said Frank Caputo, a representative from AFT. “We’re simply saying to use common sense, and let the administration handle this.”

Source: WBOY 12, 7/23/13, By Katie Anderson

[Editor's Note: To clarify the WBOY 12's somewhat unspecified timeline, at LCBOE's  May 29 meeting the "stricter dress code," which consists of banning blue jeans, faded jeans, and shorts, was proposed.  The proposal was tabled after teachers and AFT representatives aired their objections to the changes.  On June 24, the board met with its attorney, who provided the members with a legal review of employee dress codes.

At the June 24th meeting, the LCBOE indicated that its members would review the attorney’s findings and decide whether to take up the proposal at its next meeting.  On July 22, LCBOE met and voted to adopt the “stricter dress code,” thus prohibiting employees from wearing blue jeans, faded jeans, or shorts.

The change to the Lewis County Schools Policy Manual, Chapter III, Personnel, 3.64 Employee Dress Code, is contained in 3.64.4 (at page 65), which states:

 “All clothing, worn by an employee, shall be neat and clean. Clothing must not be worn in a manner which exposes undergarments or that have tears, frays, or holes.  Clothing choices should provide the individual with comfort while enabling them to best perform their specific job assignments.  Skirts or dresses can be no shorter than knee length.  Employees may not wear blue jeans, faded jeans, or shorts.”

Section 3.64 states it was approved with revisions on July 22, 2013 and that the policy is effective August 19, 2013.

In May 2010, Legal Clips summarized an article in the New Hampshire Union Leader reporting that the Board of the Manchester School Committee had approved a dress code that bans jeans, shorts, flip-flops, and some sneakers.

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