ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — The dress code in St. Johns County Schools changed over the summer, but did it change anything?
A U.S. Department of Education spokesperson confirms there is still an open Title 9 investigation into the district and its dress code. As students wrap up their first semester with the updated policy, let's see if the data shows any changes.
The new dress code got rid of subjective terms, changed the length requirement for shorts and dresses and got rid of separate sections for boys and girls.
“I didn’t have to get my daughter a whole new wardrobe like I thought I was going to have to," parent Nancy Tray said.
Your value as a person is not determined by what you wear, but in St. Johns County Schools, there is a value to being able to wear what you want.
While their kids are at school, parents like Nancy Tray and Taryn O'Keefe advocate for change, whether it is from their home, school board meetings or via ACLU phone calls.
“Let them wear shorts," O'Keefe said. "I mean, if you aren’t looking at them in a sexual way, it should be irrelevant.”
The dress code changed so the students wouldn’t have to, but did it end up making a change?
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“I just got the numbers before you called, and that’s just unbelievable that we’re still basically having the same trend," O'Keefe said.
Both parents said their kids haven't had any trouble this semester; however, the numbers I received from my public records request didn't sit well with them.
For the first semester with the new dress code, there were 316 dress code violations district-wide. Of those, 265 were given to female students. That’s 83%, which happens to be the same percentage of infractions that were female last year, too.
“It’s disappointing and it makes me wonder why," Tray said. "I think we need to dig into it a little deeper.”
O'Keefe says this is proof more work needs to be done.
The school with the highest number of violations was Bartram Trail High School. That was also the school in the midst of international controversy when a staff member edited female students' yearbook photos without their permission to cover parts of their body.
Here's a look at the data:
O'Keefe and Tray point out that they, along with other people advocating for change, were not happy with the district's choice to leave in a "mid-thigh" requirement for dresses, skirts and shorts. Tray also mentions that the district still has a policy allowing schools to make some of their own decisions when it comes to dress code enforcement.
Tray runs the Facebook group St. Johns County School District: Change the Dress Code. The group has about 1,200 members.