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Weeks before start of school year, GRPS introduces new dress code

The school board approved a new dress code, keeping it purposefully broad.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Earlier this summer, Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) announced it was eliminating the uniform policy that was in place for about ten years. The school board has just recently approved a new dress code on Aug. 1. 

"It is a big change," said Mel Atkins II, the executive director of community and student affairs at GRPS, "And we're listening to students."

Atkins said the change was prompted by feedback from students wanting to express themselves more with their clothing. 

The new guidelines are not very specific. Atkins said that is for a reason. 

"We want everyone to feel like it's a learning environment," said Atkins, "And we know you have a lot of creativity. We want we want to see that. We also want everyone to feel welcome to come into school."

In a letter sent to parents and students, GRPS explains the dress code prohibits dress and personal grooming that: 

  1. Endangers or interferes with the health or welfare of the scholars; and/or 
  2. Causes disruption or directly interferes with the educational process; and/or 
  3. Promotes illegal activities; and/or 
  4. Includes logos that promote drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gangs, racism, sexism, or any type of prejudice.

It also goes on to say students should be dressed "appropriately" for school, including no undergarments, mid-drift or cleavage showing. Head coverings are only allowed for religious or medical purposes. Shoes must be worn. 

"As you as buy clothes and things that for the start of school," said Atkins, "You just say is this, 'Is this appropriate for school?' Just use that use that judgment."

More information about the dress code will be in the Student Handbook on grps.org prior to the school year. 

RELATED VIDEO: Grand Rapids Public Schools needs to hire 300 employees ahead of school year

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