(a) The Legislature finds and declares each of the following:
(1) The children of this state have the right to an effective public school education. Both students and staff of the primary, elementary, junior and senior high school campuses have the constitutional right to be safe and secure in their persons at school. However, children in many of our public schools are forced to focus on the threat of violence and the messages of violence contained in many aspects of our society, particularly reflected in gang regalia that disrupts the learning environment.
(2) “Gang-related apparel” is hazardous to the health and safety of the school environment.
(3) Instructing teachers and administrators on the subtleties of identifying constantly changing gang regalia and gang affiliation takes an increasing amount of time away from educating our children.
(4) Weapons, including firearms and knives, have become common place upon even our elementary school campuses. Students often conceal weapons by wearing clothing, such as jumpsuits and overcoats, and by carrying large bags.
(5) The adoption of a schoolwide uniform policy is a reasonable way to provide some protection for students. A required uniform may protect students from being associated with any particular gang. Moreover, by requiring schoolwide uniforms teachers and administrators may not need to occupy as much of their time learning the subtleties of gang regalia.
(6) To control the environment in public schools to facilitate and maintain an effective learning environment and to keep the focus of the classroom on learning and not personal safety, schools need the authorization to implement uniform clothing requirements for our public school children.
(7) Many educators believe that school dress significantly influences pupil behavior. This influence is evident on school dressup days and color days. Schools that have adopted school uniforms experience a “coming together feeling,” greater school pride, and better behavior in and out of the classroom.
(b) The governing board of any school district may adopt or rescind a reasonable dress code policy that requires pupils to wear a schoolwide uniform or prohibits pupils from wearing “gang-related apparel” if the governing board of the school district approves a plan that may be initiated by an individual school’s principal, staff, and parents and determines that the policy is necessary for the health and safety of the school environment. Individual schools may include the reasonable dress code policy as part of its school safety plan, pursuant to Section 32281.
(c) Adoption and enforcement of a reasonable dress code policy pursuant to subdivision (b) is not a violation of Section 48950. For purposes of this section, Section 48950 shall apply to elementary, high school, and unified school districts. If a schoolwide uniform is required, the specific uniform selected shall be determined by the principal, staff, and parents of the individual school.
(d) A dress code policy that requires pupils to wear a schoolwide uniform shall not be implemented with less than six months’ notice to parents and the availability of resources to assist economically disadvantaged pupils.
(e) The governing board shall provide a method whereby parents may choose not to have their children comply with an adopted school uniform policy.
(f) If a governing board chooses to adopt a policy pursuant to this section, the policy shall include a provision that no pupil shall be penalized academically or otherwise discriminated against nor denied attendance to school if the pupil’s parents chose not to have the pupil comply with the school uniform policy. The governing board shall continue to have responsibility for the appropriate education of those pupils.
(g) A policy adopted pursuant to this section shall not preclude pupils that participate in a nationally recognized youth organization from wearing organization uniforms on days that the organization has a scheduled meeting.
(Amended by Stats. 2003, Ch. 828, Sec. 10. Effective January 1, 2004.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018