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Uniform Policy: Universal Dress Code

Indianapolis Public Schools is a district committed to racial equity in both mindset and action.  As such, students and their parents/guardians hold the primary responsibility in determining a student’s personal attire, hairstyle, jewelry, and personal items (e.g. backpacks, book bags). Schools are responsible for ensuring that student attire, hairstyle, jewelry, and personal items do not interfere with the health or safety of any student and do not contribute to a hostile or intimidating environment for any student.

Core Values

In relation to student dress, the district’s core values include the following:

  • Students should be able to dress and style their hair for school in a manner that expresses their individuality without fear of unnecessary discipline or body shaming;
  • Students have the right to be treated equitably. Dress code enforcement will not create disparities, reinforce or increase marginalization of any group, nor will it be more strictly enforced against students because of racial identity, ethnicity, gender identity, gender expression, gender nonconformity, sexual orientation, cultural or religious identity, household income, body size/type, or body maturity;
  • Students and staff are responsible for managing their own personal distractions; and
  • Students should not face unnecessary barriers to school or classroom attendance. 

Universal Dress Code

Students must wear:

  • Top (shirts with sleeves that cover the midriff, blouse, sweater, sweatshirt, hoodies, etc.);
  • Bottom (pants, shorts, skirt, dress, etc. must be free of tears or holes and should be fingertip length)
  • Footwear (closed toe shoes only)

Students can wear:

  • Head coverings for religious purposes
    • The exceptions are bonnets, durags, hats inside the building, wave caps, and similar items.

Restrictions

This policy permits additional student attire requirements when necessary to ensure safety in certain academic settings (e.g. physical education, science or CTE courses). Additionally, this policy allows for reasonable variation in required student attire for participation in activities such as swimming or gymnastics. Attire worn in observance of a student’s religion is not subject to this policy.

Students may not wear clothing, jewelry, or personal items that:

  • Are pornographic, contain threats, or that promote illegal or violent conduct such as the use of weapons, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or drug paraphernalia;
  • Demonstrate hate group association/affiliation and/or use hate speech targeting groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, or other protected groups;
  • Intentionally show private parts (nipples, genitals, buttocks). Clothing must cover private parts in opaque (not able to be seen-through) material; ensure that all undergarments are hidden from view.
  • Cover the student’s face to the extent that the student is not identifiable (except clothing/headgear worn for a religious or medical purpose); or
  • Demonstrate gang association/affiliation.

Enforcement

Principals are required to ensure that all staff are aware of and understand the guidelines of this policy. Staff will use reasonable efforts to avoid dress-coding students in front of other students.

Students shall not be disciplined or removed from class as a consequence for wearing attire in violation of this policy unless the attire creates a substantial disruption to the educational environment, poses a hazard to the health or safety of others, or factors into a student behavior rule violation such as malicious harassment or the prohibition on harassment, intimidation, and bullying. Further, no student shall be suspended from school or be referred to as “a distraction” due to their appearance or attire.

Typical consequences for a violation of this policy include:

  • Dress code violations are not Out of School Suspension offenses
  • 1st offense: parent/guardian contact and the directive to cover, change, or remove the non-complying attire
  • 2nd offense: parent phone call and directive to change 
  • 3rd offense: required parent/student restorative conference
  • The Principal or their designee should notify a student’s parent/guardian of the school’s response to violations of the student dress policy

The Superintendent or her designee is authorized to develop procedures in order to implement this policy as needed, including training for administration and staff.  School staff will receive training on the equitable enforcement of the dress code, ensuring consistency and respect for student diversity.