Subject: Qld. Media statement - School Communities Decide School Dress Code
Date: Wednesday, 3 March 1999 16:11
Education, HON. DEAN WELLS
School Communities Decide School Dress Code
The Minister for Education Dean Wells today put the issue of school dress codes in the hands of school communities, where it belongs.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Wells said he would issue a determination under the Education Act empowering P & Cs to decide whether to have a school dress code policy, and to decide what that dress code would be.
Mr Wells said heavy handed legislation - as suggested by the Opposition - was not required.
"We can not legislate for every part of people's lives - and to legislate for the colour of a child's socks is ridiculous," he said.
Mr Wells said P & Cs could now express a view that a school dress code furthers the objectives of the Act in the context of the particular local circumstances of the school.
"After a P & C has made its decision, school principals can exercise their discretion, under the Act, to write into the school's behaviour management policy, a requirement that the school dress code prescribed by the P & C be observed. "
Mr Wells said principals should then be able to enforce those dress requirements with appropriate sanctions, without falling prey to the difficulties identified by the Ombudsman last year.
"At the same time, it is not my view that Principals should be able to impose draconian punishments to discipline students whose only offence is failure to wear correct school clothing," he said.
"Suspension, exclusion, or negative comments in school reports, and any other punishment which has the consequence of detrimentally affecting the career or employability of the student should be avoided.
"Indeed, it is often the case that school dress codes are not observed for good reasons, such as poverty or transience. School communities are more likely to be sensitive to these special circumstances than legislation.
"That sensitivity might be expressed, by a school community, wishing to maintain a strict school dress code, by keeping a bank of clean school clothing items and offering them to any student who presented themselves incorrectly dressed.
"If the student refuses, unreasonably, to comply with the dress code they may be subject to sanctions which have been supported by the school community."
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