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John Adams principal tightens dress code

CMSD already sets limits on what students can wear, but John Adams High School Principal Damon Holmes wants to remove any room for doubt.

The District code requires students to wear blue or white collared shirts, blouses, turtlenecks or oxford tops and dress pants or knee-length shorts or skirts that are dark or navy blue, black, khaki or tan.

But effective this fall, John Adams students are to wear school-color maroon polo shirts with the school logo, along with tan or khaki slacks or knee-length skirts or shorts. School leaders made the rule change with support from students, parents, teachers and the community, Holmes said.

A dress code helps administrators distinguish students from trespassers, and it shields students from ridicule if they fail to keep up with fashion.

But Holmes said he and staff have spent a lot of time each morning determining who is in compliance and who is not, and they have issued as many as 10 violations a day. Repeated infractions can lead to suspension.
Holmes said the change involves more than simplification. He hopes that adopting a look specific to John Adams will unite students, another reason the District adopted a dress code in 2009.

“They will know what it represents – ‘I’m part of family,’ ” Holmes said. “It’s about excellence.”

The shirts can be ordered through the school for $8 each.

The change is among a number slated for John Adams, which was designated as one of CMSD’s first Investment Schools before the 2013-14 school year.

Investment Schools are given two to three years of intense intervention to improve climate and academic performance. The schools could face stronger action if improvement does not follow.

Holmes said John Adams students won’t face a repeat of last year, when a number of teaching positions were held by substitutes. All 87 jobs were filled before three recent departures, and Holmes said those openings would be quickly patched.

The school also is moving to a block scheduling system, doubling instruction time from 40 minutes per subject to 80 minutes. Holmes said that will give students and teachers more time to concentrate on core subjects.

“The data show we need more time on task,” he said. “We lacked staff, and the staff we had lacked sufficient time to implement our strategies.”