TUSTIN — The Tustin Unified school board voted 3 to 2 Monday night to require schools to draw up dress codes aimed at ridding campuses of gang symbols.
Each school in the district will be told to hold meetings, with parents invited, to form the school's own dress code. At junior high and high schools, students will also be invited. Each school's dress code will then go back to the school board for final approval.
The policy also directs the schools to consult with law enforcement authorities about hats or accessories that they consider gang symbols.
District Supt. David L. Andrews said: "This will give the principals support, philosophical support. We're saying to them if you're having a problem on your campus, take care of it."
But James Aynes, an attorney, told the school board Monday that the code was "vague and overbroad. It does not identify what law enforcement agency or what members of that agency are to make these decisions. I see a real problem for parents. Where are they going to get notice of what is not allowed and what is?"
School board member Jane Bauer emphasized that the dress codes are supposed to give principals latitude.
"I think we need to make sure that principals know we are talking about a mode of dress, and not specific items." For example, Andrews said, if "a student wears a Raiders cap or a Raiders jacket and it doesn't mean anything at that particular school, then that's not a problem. It depends on the school environment, and that (decision) is up to the principal."
Law enforcement authorities say students often wear certain apparel to indicate membership or affiliation with a gang. Proponents of dress codes, which have been adopted by school districts in Los Angeles and elsewhere, say they help students realize that schools are neutral territories in turf wars that erupt between gangs.
A.G. Currie Middle School and Tustin High School adopted dress codes last year as a way of combatting gang-style dress.
The changes in the Tustin district's policy were considered by administrators, teachers and students at individual schools last year, and their recommendations were included in the proposal.
The Orange Unified School District has also proposed a dress code, though less restrictive than Tustin's, to reduce the influence of gangs on campuses. On Aug. 15, the Orange district board will consider a policy that would allow each school to establish its own dress code.