Is It Really “Distracting and Attracting”?

Uneven dress code enforcement affects girls at Woodbury

Woodbury’s enforcement of the Shaker Heights district-wide dress code has a tendency to be inconsistent. 

A parent of a current sixth grade girl at Woodbury was concerned when an unidentified administrator told her daughter that her clothes were “distracting and attracting for boys.” The parent described her outfit as not violating the dress code.  “She was wearing shorts with tights underneath them,” the parent said. Woodbury administration never explained why the student’s clothes were violating the dress code.

The student handbook for all of the buildings in the district says, “clothing and accessories may not distract from the educational process” and “the school administration reserves the right to determine what is appropriate appearance and dress.”  The wording of the dress code in the student handbook leads to inconsistencies when administrators enforce the dress code.

Although the dress code lays out the viable reasons a student could get dress coded, there seems to be a pattern in which girls get dress coded for wearing things that are not specifically listed as violations. 

There have been several recent administrative changes at Woodbury, but the inconsistencies still remain. During her time at Woodbury, an administrator told Kayden Trotter, now a freshman, that the length of her shorts was inappropriate. “I wore those shorts a number of times before being dress-coded. I was then told I either had to change or wrap a sweatshirt around my waist,” Trotter wrote. 

Current Woodbury Principal Tiffany Joseph, who took the position in June 2020, stated in an email, “Woodbury’s policy regarding dress code aligns with the district’s policy. At the beginning of the school year, all students were informed of Woodbury’s policy during our student expectation assemblies.” She also wrote that students in the assembly were told this includes, “No clothing that exposes undergarments and or private body parts.”

“I felt like they were failing to recognize that it took courage for her to step forward and say ‘this happened and it made me feel really bad and I don’t want other girls to experience this too,’” the anonymous parent said.

Trotter also commented on how her experience made her feel. Trotter wrote, “I was upset at the thought of being an 11-year-old that had been a ‘distraction’ to students and staff.” 

The Shakerite has chosen to keep this source anonymous for the safety of her daughter.

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