Judge bars Napa school from enforcing strict dress code
NAPA (AP) – A judge has barred a middle school from enforcing a dress code that got a seventh-grader in trouble for wearing Winnie the Pooh-themed socks.
Napa County Superior Court Judge Raymond Guadagni ruled Monday in favor of 15 students and parents who alleged in a lawsuit that the Napa Valley Unified School District’s “appropriate attire policy” violates free speech rights. The judge prohibited Redwood Middle School in Napa from enforcing the dress code while he continues to consider its legality.
The policy, instituted in the 1990s to squelch gang activity on campus, requires students to wear clothes with solid colors in blue, white, green, yellow, khaki, gray, brown and black. Permitted fabrics are cotton twill, corduroy and chino. No denim is allowed.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit on behalf of the students earlier this year after Toni Kay violated the policy last year by donning socks with the Tigger cartoon character on them, along with a denim skirt and a brown shirt with pink border. She was sent to an in-school suspension program called Students With Attitude Problems.
The girl’s younger sister was cited for wearing a shirt emblazoned with “Jesus Freak.”
“We’re ecstatic that the court recognizes our kids rights to express themselves at school,” said Donnell Scott, the students’ mother. “I’m only sorry the school district didn’t respond to our concerns when we raised them two years ago.”
The school district’s chief lawyer, Sally Jensen Dutcher, said an appeal was being considered and she would discuss the case with the school board Thursday.