The District 65 board members Monday told administrators to revise the school dress code to be more inclusive, less punitive and more consistent with Evanston Township High School’s policy.

At a meeting last December, the board directed the administration to review the dress code policy after students and parents submitted a petition requesting that the ETHS dress code be adopted by District 65 and requested a change, “specifically addressing the amount of skin exposed and the student mindset implied by the existing policy,” according to a staff memo.

Andalib Khelghati, assistant superintendent of schools, presented dress code policies from various schools, including nearby districts as well as San Francisco and Portland, to the board’s policy committee Monday night.

Board member Sunith Kartha supported adapting the ETHS dress code for grades K-8. The policy has been locally developed, she said, and starts with a framing statement that the dress code “supports equitable educational access and is written in a manner that does not reinforce stereotypes.”

Board member Joseph Hailpern emphasized that the policy and student handbook should be “explicit about what students may and may not do,” to avoid hot button issues such as a teacher objecting to a student with pink hair and sending them out of class. “The focus should be more on school work and less on what you’re wearing,” he said.

During public comment, three female District 65 students described incidents of what they called inappropriate behavior by teachers, such as publicly calling out a student’s clothing as being inappropriate, applying standards inconsistently for boys and girls and frequently asking girls to put their arms down to determine if a skirt or shorts meets the standard of being longer than fingertip length.

They also said that teachers sometimes won’t explain why an item of clothing is inappropriate.

Board member Sergio Hernandez said that ETHS has “pulled away from punitive aspects” of the dress code policy and that the ETHS and Portland policies were similar. The Portland policy is also explicit about the role of teachers and staff, he noted.

Hailpern noted that changing a policy is a long process, involving feedback from students, parents and teachers and applying the equity impact assessment tool, not to mention training.  He suggested that changes be made to the student handbook soon to address some of the more obvious issues, while the more extensive work to revise the policy be allowed to take the time required.

Superintendent Paul Goren summarized the consensus of the group as a direction to: mesh the Portland and ETHS dress code policies, engage school climate teams and administrators in developing the new policy, and work out a schedule for the change. Meanwhile, he said, they would tweak the handbook in areas they could change now.

A revised policy is expected to be presented to the Board in September.

Join the Conversation


  1. This nonsense must stop and
    This nonsense must stop and uniforms for all would be the quickest and easiest solution to this P.C. madness. Wearing pajamas to school is not likely to close the achievement gap which we have been led to believe is the most vexing problem facing Evanston schools.

    1. As a parent with a kid in

      As a parent with a kid in Dist 65 I think this is a good thing. Sorry some people are so cranky about it. 

    2. Uniforms
      It works beautifully well for the parochial schools. No problem, and it make kids focus on what is really important from 8-3:00. GREAT idea

    3. no

      the point of changing the dress code is to allow students to feel comfortable in their own bodies while still being able to express themselves uniforms only perpetuate those problems further

  2. Hey look over there, a squirell!!
    Right because San Fran and Portland school districts have a stellar reputation in education (sarcasm).

    If I were still in school I would wear a MAGA hat and watch the teacher and administrations’ proverbial heads explode. It would be a joyous moment indeed. Such an action could make national news and get tens of thousands of likes on social media. Just sayin. (hint hint, nudge, nudge).

    This dress code policy proposal is simply a deflection from the real issues, broken dysfunctional families, drug and alcohol abuse and the decline of educational standards.

    1. Al, I would pay to see that.
      Al, I would pay to see that. Or just simply a t-shirt with a picture of the President on it. I’m sure the administrators would flip out. Of course, when kids (and staff) wore Obama shirts and had Obama as their laptop background image, no one batted an eye.

      1. I’d pay for the pleasure of
        I’d pay for the pleasure of seeing the reaction to that. On the back perhaps a trilogy of Anne Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Dana Loesch. Oh the horror!
        I noticed the Assistant Superintendent was wearing a coat and tie in the head shot. Suppose he had his jammy pants on below?

    2. West Coast Schools
      In general and with a few exceptions, west coast schools do not have the best of programs, I believe Al nailed this point. Another point that is easy to make, is that K through 12 schools that have uniform policies are better performing schools in both academics and behavior. It also becomes a more level playing field for the students.

      It appears that D65 is heading in the wrong direction by setting a bad example.

    3. Anonymous AL- spot on!

      I agree with 100% of your post. Every day I’m amazed at the craziness of the Evanston school system and the fact they will not address the root causes of their poor test scores. At the end of the day, it’s all about personal responsibilty……with everything in life. It’s nice to know there are other conservatives in this insane town. 

    4. Feigned concern
      Why are you so threatened by an issue that has no affect on you at all? None. Zero. It harms absolutely no one and benefits the kids from broken dysfunctional families that you so tenderly care about, as well as every other student at ETHS. How? Glad you asked. From the ETHS dress code guidelines [which I’m sure you’ve read];

      Our student dress code is designed to accomplish several goals:
      ● Maintain a safe learning environment in classes where protective or supportive clothing is needed, such as
      chemistry/biology (eye or body protection), dance (bare feet, tights/leotards), or PE (athletic attire/shoes).
      ● Allow students to wear clothing of their choice that is comfortable.
      ● Allow students to wear clothing that expresses their self-identified gender.
      ● Allow students to wear religious attire without fear of discipline or discrimination.
      ● Prevent students from wearing clothing or accessories with offensive images or language, including profanity,
      hate speech, and pornography.
      ● Prevent students from wearing clothing or accessories that denote, suggest, display or reference alcohol,
      drugs or related paraphernalia or other illegal conduct or activities.
      ● Prevent students from wearing clothing or accessories that will interfere with the operation of the school,
      disrupt the educational process, invade the rights of others, or create a reasonably foreseeable risk of such
      interference or invasion of rights.
      ● Prevent students from wearing clothing or accessories that reasonably can be construed as being or including
      content that is racist, lewd, vulgar or obscene, or that reasonably can be construed as containing fighting
      words, speech that incites others to imminent lawless action, defamatory speech, or threats to others.
      ● Ensure that all students are treated equitably regardless of race, sex, gender identity, gender expression,
      sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, household income or body type/size.

      The dress code doesn’t force any agenda, impose any added costs, or impede any advancement to learning. So again I would ask, why do you feel so threatened?

      1. Progressives feel threatened by MAGA hats
        If your comment is directed at me I do not feel threatened at all.

        I simply stated it would be fun and interesting to see how these so called open minded public school teachers and administrators would react if a student wore a MAGA hat in school in light of the district’s permissive dress code policy. There’s plenty of evidence how people have been threatened and sometimes even beaten for wearing a MAGA hat. Don’t forget “progressive” agitators used violence and vandalism to shut down a Trump campaign rally in Chicago.

        I believe it’s progressives who feel threatened by MAGA hats. On a side not if students can “wear religious attire without fear of discipline or discrimination” can they openly pray in class, in the cafeteria or on the football field?

      2. I just revisited the ETHS

        I just revisited the ETHS dress code and I’m wondering a few things.

        1) The code says, “Clothes must be worn in a way such that genitals, buttocks, breasts, and nipples are fully covered with opaque fabric. However, cleavage should not have coverage requirements.” Cleavage is permissible but exposure of the buttocks (buttocks cleavage) and underwear is not?  Also, where is the line between breast exposure and cleavage? And who decides? Are staff allowed to wear shirts that expose cleavage? 


        2) Two guidelines state that students may not wear “hate speech, profanity, pornography,” or “images or language that creates a hostile or intimidating environment based on any protected class or consistently marginalized groups.” RacerX says that no agenda is being advanced, but wouldn’t some agenda or political ideology be at play in the enforcement of this aspect of the code–at least in some cases? (which is Al’s point, I think.) Another guideline says that students are allowed to “wear clothing that expresses their self-identified gender.” It’s pretty difficult to say that an agenda is not being advanced there, regardless of what one’s own position is.

    5. Kids wear MAGA hats all the
      Kids wear MAGA hats all the time at ETHS. No one cares. Only childish people try to rile people up with their clothing choices.

      1. No one would dare wear a MAGA hat at ETHS

        I know several high schoolers at ETHS and I asked them if anyone has worn a MAGA hat at school this year. Their response was clear – no one would dare wear one because of the perceived negative consequences, which is how folks of a certain political ideology silences opposing speech.

        So either you are flat out lying or grossly mistaken because ETHS students do NOT wear MAGA hats “all the time” or at all. I drive by the high school almost every day before and after it lets out and I have not seen ONE student with a MAGA hat. Not one.

        But hey, prove me wrong. Show me some photos of students at ETHS wearing MAGA hats. Afterall, if ETHS students wear MAGA hats “all the time” then it wouldn’t be hard to take a random photo of kids, leaving or entering school, wearing MAGA hats. Right?

      2. No one wears MAGA hats!

        No one would dare wear a MAGA hat, shirt, pin in this liberal town. Why put yourself in the position to be confronted or spit on. A MAGA bumper sticker would lead to a broken window or keyed car.

        There is so much anger in Evanston amongst these “tolerant”, “hate has no home here”, “we welcome everyone” individuals. HAHAHAHAH! Let’s replace that with…..”hate has no home here…..unless you’re a Republican……..”

        D65 and D202 are teaching Evanston kids that it’s ok to look trashy…….it’s your personal choice to wear whatever you want and lord forbid someone dictate what is “proper”…..or insult or offend you.

        Every school needs a dress code as our children need to learn that what they wear on their bodies and how they present themselves after leaving school will matter in the job world.

  3. Again “Just Do Something”
    Where does the administration come up with these “ideas” ?
    It is clear they don’t know how to run the schools and produce a quality education, so they reach in to the barrel of ‘guesses’ [I would not call ideas] and HOPE this will work. If it does not they will try something else—likely to cost parents and taxpayers and frustrate parents.
    It looks like Evanston schools need to clean house and get a whole new set of administration—from Superintendent down to Assistant Principals and bring in a staff who knows what they are doing.
    Next idea, have all instruction done in Swedish ? and have everyone wear their underware on the outside so they can check it is clean ? [See Woody Allen in ‘Bananas.’

    1. Reading is fundamental
      You’ve thoroughly read the article so I know you understand that it is the school board that is telling administrators to update the dress code? Not sure what your idea of getting a new superintendent on down would accomplish.

  4. Disrespectful to our teachers!

    D65, D202 and some parents are teaching our children that proper attire is not important in society. It’s beyond insane that kids can roll out of bed in pajamas and head straight to school. I’ve seen outfits that ETHS students wear and my jaw drops. Who are these parents that allow kids to go to school without combing their hair and wearing clothes that look as if they haven’t been washed in ages or ironed or properly covering their body? You are now going to extend this ridiculousness to the younger students?? How disrespectful to our teachers! Our educators should not have to teach children that clearly haven’t taken time to be presentable and wearing clothing that are revealing. Evanston schools are a joke at this point and a full restructuring of administrators should take place.  Taking guidance from schools in Portland, OR is laughable. Have you seen their test scores……oh wait…..our test scores are just as bad……..

    1. Un-dress Codes
      I had the opportunity to be inside ETHS about a year ago, and was appalled by how the kids looked. Call me old-fashioned, but I couldn’t stop staring at how “trashy” and unkempt a lot of them looked. I can imagine that those who dress nicely get bullied. I can only guess that they have parents or guardians who actually give a darn about how they present themselves when out in public.

  5. I’m curious about how

    I’m curious about how “standards [are inconsistently for boys and girls]”. What are some examples of this?

    1. Parent groups are full of examples
      Short length is a big one as is fit of shirts. Boys can wear tighter fitting shirts, and girls were getting called out by teachers for it.

      1. So, there’s no recognition

        So, there’s no recognition whatsoever that girls and boys have different bodies and therefore may require different guidelines? We’re going to pretend that the differences in the chests of males and females don’t matter when it comes to clothing? I don’t get it. 


        1. standards
          …and that’s why uniforms are so great! Nobody wastes their time , energy, and money regarding everyone’s pick of clothes. It simply is what it is, and what the school requires and allows. End of story. People can put their energy into worthwhile things.

          1. Think

            Urban Prep Academy.  Why go out of state for a dress code when there is a closer policy in a school where students actually succeed.

            I wonder why the Evanston Cradle to Career committee isn’t all over this topic.  What’s going to happen when these kids grow up and apply for a job in their jammies?  Isn’t school a place where children go to learn?  And if parents fail to teach appropriate attire then schools should.

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