Dress code causes controversy in Triton School Corporation

Published: Aug. 14, 2019 at 5:34 PM EDT
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Changes to the dress code are causing controversy in the Triton School Corporation, and some parents are upset over the changes in the district following a school board meeting Monday.

On Wednesday, 16 News Now spoke with Superintendent Jeremy Riffle about why the changes are being made.

The superintendent says the changes were meant to reinforce the core values of the district and push the idea that modesty is the best policy for both young men and women.

Superintendent Jeremy Riffle heard from his staff on what needed to be changed and focused on this school year.

"Three themes came out of that. It was attendance, discipline and dress code," Riffle said.

That last point caused concern from parents at a school board meeting Monday.

"I think we respected one another to agree to disagree,” he said. “And in the end, I'm placed in that seat to make those decisions.

"Honestly, to protect our young men and young women, help them to be a little more modest when they come to school."

Now, shorts need to be an appropriate length, and there's another issue some in town are talking about with regard to dressing for school:

"They can have holes, they just need to not show skin," Riffle said.

Triton School Corporation believes that showing too much skin in the classroom can be a distraction for students.

"I would say I guess it brings undue attention to her for the wrong reasons,” Riffle says. "We live in a very sexualized culture. I don't think anyone is denying that, and I think we needed to clean things up, and this is how we chose to do that."

Riffle says focusing on dress code is also about safety.

"And also the security of our young ladies," he said. "My No. 1 job is to keep you safe. That's not just from a threat, that’s not just from a tornado or a fire, and that's also socially and emotionally to keep you safe, and how can we continue to have a healthier self-image about ourselves and not feel like we need to compete with the next young lady or young man by having the most holes in your jeans or the shortest shorts?"

He added that if students have holes in their pants or shirts due to poverty, the school can take that on a case-by-case basis. He hopes the new dress code doesn't distract from his vision for the school.

"We've been named the top school in Marshall County, and Kosciusko County, for that matter, but in the end, that happens with a lot of hard work, a lot of community support, awesome students," Riffle said. "Unfortunately, this is gaining the attention we're getting right now."

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