Parents were not so much concerned for the content of a new high school dress code but the timing of its implementation.

The meeting of the Gainesville ISD Board of Trustees was moved from the Special Services Building to the Gainesville High School Cafeteria to accommodate at least 30 guests, many of whom were curious about upcoming high school dress code changes.

Gainesville ISD schools begin Thursday, and many said dress code changes should have been made sooner to allow parents time to purchase appropriate clothing.

Sandra Schilling of Gainesville said she already purchased clothing for her daughters and disapproved with certain sections of the code. She said the ban on jeans with holes in them may discriminate against certain students.

“What about people who cannot afford to buy new clothes?” she said.

She asked for clarification on what a “headband” is, whether it is to tie back a girl’s hair or if its a forehead-style headband worn by gang members.

Rena Kenner said she has heard rumors of changes in the dress code since the spring.

“Why are we taking four months to do so, that’s the question,” she said.

She said jeans with waist that actually go to a girl’s waist are increasingly hard to find, as low-rise pants are the trend.

“You can’t let us know any sooner than three days before school starts to go buy our children a new wardrobe?” she said.

The new dress code, as provided by GISD Assistant Superintendent Dennis McNaughten last week, is as follows:

• Shirts and blouses must have sleeves and be tucked at all times (no midriff skin showing at any time).

• The display of cleavage is unacceptable. Low cut blouses, tops, sweaters, etc. with plunging necklines are not allowed.

• No clothing with transparent or see through material.

• Skirt hemline and length of shorts must be at the knee.

• Form fitting pants (such as spandex), shorts or skirts may not be worn.

• Students shall wear their pants or overalls at the waistline and must fit appropriately around waist, hip and legs. No pants may be baggy, saggy, frayed, dragging ground or containing holes. A belt with an open style buckle must be worn.

• No clothing with pictures, emblems or writing that is lewd, offensive, vulgar or obscene, advertises or depicts tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, drugs, gangs, satanic references/depictions, death, dismemberment, or any other substance that students are prohibited from having at school.

• Proper undergarments must be worn.

• No gothic attire is allowed.

• Students must wear shoes. Shoes with metal tips or cleats are unacceptable.

• Hats, caps, scarves, bandanas, hairnets, du rags, headbands, sweatbands or any other headwear are not allowed to be in the building or classrooms.

• Students may wear necklaces, but tucked under the shirt at all times and medallions must be less than two inches in diameter.

• Sunglasses may not be worn in the building or classrooms unless ordered by a physician.

• Pierced body ornaments are prohibited with the exception of girls having piercing in the ear lobe only. All tongue, nose and eyebrow rings are prohibited. No males may wear piercings of any kind.

• Hair will be kept neat, clean and reasonably styled. No Mohawks or other hair styles that will distract from the learning environment. Hair length must be above the collar for boys. Students are not permitted to have an unnatural hair color, shavings or designs including eyebrows. Hair styles must not obstruct a clear view of the face.

• Facial hair will not be permitted; Mouth grills will not be permitted.

• All tattoos must be covered.

Phillip Stockwell, a parent of six children — two of whom are currently at Gainesville High School— said he supports the changes. He said too many students are concerned with making fashion statements rather than focussing on education.

“When I come to pick my kids up I don’t know if I’m on Harry Hines or Gainesville ISD,” he said, noting a street in north Dallas known for prostitution.

McNaughten said the changes are “not set in stone” and may be altered.

He said there are not many changes on the new dress code as compared to previous years.’

A comparison of the 2005-06 dress code and the 2006-07 code shows six substantive changes, namely the tucked in shirt and hemline length requirements, and the prohibition of gang insignia, “lewd” imagery, visible cleavage and “gothic clothing.”

“This is not your father’s Gainesville,” McNaughten said, noting the recent shooting of Jesus “Chuy” Camacho and Saturday’s slaying of Reymondo Torres, who was an entering junior at GHS.

He showed a video to those at the meeting of a student with baggy blue jeans. To the expressions of shock from the audience, he pulled out from his pants several pistols, handguns, and Uzi hand-held automatic machine gun and even a full-length shotgun.

“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” McNaughten said.

He said weapons are easy to conceal, and defending the decision to have tucked in, fitted clothing in the dress code.

He said a conversation with Jack Jones, gang task force specialist with the Gainesville Police Department, revealed that perhaps half of the males at the high school have an affiliation with a gang.

“They could be a ‘wanna-be,’ or a ‘poser’ ... but the fact is they’re affiliating with gangs,” McNaughten said.

He continued to address distractions in the classrooms, especially that of sexual attraction.

“What’s cute to a girl and the mother of that girl are different,” he said.

He noted his own daughter, whom he said is attractive, had many young adolescent males around her in school — and not just for conversation.

He said there is an undeniable distraction there, and with an “academically unacceptable” rating from the Texas Education Agency, GHS cannot be too careful to insist on modesty.

McNaughten said he expects some criticism.

“Yes, the town is going to gripe. And, yes, your kids are going to gripe, but we’ve got to do our job,” he said.

He said teachers should be busier teaching children than marshaling the student body.

McNaughten entertained questions from GISD trustees.

Board member Penni Nichols asked if the belt requirement would be enforced in the elementary, intermediate and junior high schools. McNaughten said belts are not necessary for the younger students who have elastic waistlines on their pants, and belts may also be a safety hazard on playground equipment.

“Gang experts say the best thing is to start early, but I’m on the fence on that one,” McNaughten said.

Nichols asked if the tucked in shirt requirement is for females and males.

McNaughten summed up the dress code in two words: “Cover up.”

“If a shirt is designed to be tucked in, I think it should be tucked in,” he said.

Nichols asked about flip-flops and open-style shoes, and McNaughten said there is a safety issue to consider, especially when chemicals are spilled in laboratory classes.

Nichols asked if the teachers and staff would be required to adhere to the dress code.

“The answer is an emphatic ‘yes,’” McNaughten said.

Roy Brewer, board member, asked for a definition of “headband.” McNaughten said he did not have one but would work on it.

Board member Mary Hunter said there would be problems if the teachers did not adhere to the dress code themselves.

Clifford Allred, Gainesville resident, said several teachers and one board member would be in violation of the dress code the way they were dressed that evening.

Several decorative placards and signs in the cafeteria featured photographs of teen-agers in violation of the dress code with untucked shirts, spiked dreadlocks, long hair and exposed midrifs.

McNaughten said the dress code would also apply to athletic events, per state law.

“So my daughter has to have her shirt tucked in with a belt on or she can’t even come to the game?” Nichols asked.

McNaughten said the same rules would be enforced at Leeper Stadium, as well as by GISD staff, coaches and teachers at away games.

Superintendent Charles Luke called the dress code changes a “step in the right direction” and requested further community input.

McNaughten invited any concerned parent to call the GISD administration offices at 665-4362 with questions or comments.

Other business will be reported in tomorrow’s Register.

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at andyhoguegdr[at]ntin.net