School’s dress code questioned

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By David Giuliani

Andrea Lucero, the mother of Las Vegas City Schools students, says the district pays more attention to the dress code than education.

She said one of her daughters spent a month in all-day detention at Memorial Middle School because of a lip ring. She said the daughter decided to keep her ring as a matter of principle; otherwise, Lucero said, the piercing would have closed up.

“The dress code is ridiculous,” she said. “My daughter has been treated like a common criminal. It’s not like she beat someone up or brought drugs to school.”

She also said that when her older daughter attended Memorial Middle School, she was constantly bothered about tucking in her shirt.

“I have had two teachers contact me and tell me they agree it’s ridiculous but must stay anonymous due to ridicule by other faculty,” Lucero said in an e-mail.

It’s no secret that schools Superintendent Rick Romero, who started a year and a half ago, has his reservations about the district’s dress codes. But as long as those codes remain, he said he respects schools’ efforts to enforce them.

“I have to support my administrators, and I need to support policies and procedures,” Romero said. “The middle school is more strict than the high school and the elementaries. We’ve had great success at our middle school. It’s one of our top schools for student behavior.”

The superintendent said Memorial’s staff is “hardline” in carrying out its dress code.

“They feel it’s very necessary at that age group, with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. They are molding the identities of adolescents,” Romero said. “In a lot of ways, I agree with that. They believe in consistency.”

At a school board meeting last year, Romero said he feared dress codes were distracting from education.

“Whether a child has his shirt tucked in or not, we are losing the message,” Romero told the board. “The message is you’re here for an education. So I have my own reservations about the dress code.”

Besides, he said he hasn’t seen the gang activity that was used to justify instituting the dress codes.