‘Distracting’ vs. ‘Disruptive’ Discrepency


As the dress code is becoming more relevant now, I interviewed Board of Education chair Ms. Lee Goldstein and Bedford Middle School principal Dr. Adam Rosen about the dress code, and what it means for students.

As it turns out, there are two slightly different dress codes: the district-wide policy passed by the Board of Education and the policy in the Bedford Middle School handbook.

While the policies are very similar, they do have some differences. Most notably, the Bedford Middle School policy states, “Clothing or jewelry which is distracting, or disruptive to the educational program… shall not be worn on campus or at school activities.”

This wording is different from the Board of Education policy which states, “Attire or accessories that contain vulgarity or that contain overly offensive or disruptive writing or pictures, which are likely to disrupt the educational environment” are not allowed to be worn.

Ms. Goldstein was very clear, “The Board of Education writes and adopts the policy; the School Administration “operationalize” it with regulations and rules. You will see our policy does not use the word “distracting” and only describes “disruptive” clothing or jewelry as that which has vulgar language or depictions and are violent or intimidating.”

This difference in wording means a lot. Bedford’s dress code implies that a student’s dress must not only not interfere with learning, but also adhere to a standard of respectability, Dr. Rosen says,

“Teachers respond to dress code violations when students are in conflict with statute, such as displays of alcohol, drugs and weapons, safety hazards in certain settings such as science labs or gymnasium, or disruptions to the educational process.”

Dr. Rosen’s response only addresses clothing that directly disrupts the educational process. Dr. Rosen does not define distracting clothing.

Is distracting clothing okay to wear if it does not disrupt the learning process? Would wearing bright colors be disruptive, or just distracting? Regardless, it might be in the best interest of the Bedford community to resolve this policy language difference and figure out why a more strict dress code policy is necessary to Bedford Middle School.