School Dress Code Lawsuit Settled


It was announced last week by the Napa Valley Unified School District and the American Civil Liberties Union that a free speech lawsuit over school dress codes has been settled. The lawsuit was filed over what was described as an overly strict dress code at the Redwood Middle School, which banned a variety of fabrics, colors, and clothing, including Winnie the Pooh socks and jeans.Students were reprimanded or removed from class for wearing what the school considered to be inappropriate clothing, but what would be classed as normal clothing at most other schools. The school district had argued that the ban was in place to try and reduce the risk of gang culture, but parents stated that it was too strict.

One parent stated: “I absolutely hated the old policy. It frustrated me that we as parents couldn’t put our kids in clothes they would wear every day. I couldn’t determine what was appropriate for my child to wear.” Parents will not be able to opt out of future dress codes, and the district will no longer be able to restrict lettering or pictures on clothing unless the ban is allowed under state law.

Julia Harumi Mass, staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, stated: “California law contains strong protections for student speech and limits schools’ ability to restrict students’ clothing choices. It’s important for school districts to know that any school uniform policy must provide an opportunity for families to opt-out and that other dress code restrictions must further the safety and health of the school environment.”


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