'Ridiculous' Capri controversy stirring debate among teachers

The short pants are popular with teachers straddling the line between professional dress and comfort in the hot Georgia temps. But many are calling the "ban" ridiculous.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. -- A Capri controversy has teachers riled up in one metro Atlanta school district. 

The short pants are popular with teachers, straddling the line between professional dress and comfort in the hot Georgia temperatures. But when word leaked that Douglas County might be "banning" them, it sparked off a debate.

11Alive's Christie Ethridge dug into the debate some are calling "ridiculous."

In an email to teachers, the memo reads:

"Please emphasize the expectation that attire be professional and appropriate. Some items of clothing that are not appropriate for work include jeans (except on Fridays), flip flops, sneakers, leggings (except when worn with an appropriate length dress), shorts and Capris."

It's the last item on that list that's causing a stir.

"I think it's utterly ridiculous," said Kevin, who has family who works in the school system. He did not want to give his last name for fear of backlash. But he said this type of policy blows his mind.

"Is the teacher wearing khakis going to improve test scores? Is it going to improve funding," he asked. "I don't think so."

On Wednesday, 11Alive sat down with Douglas County Superintendent Trent North, who tried to assure teachers it's not a ban, rather an expectation. He said if you wouldn't wear it to the interview, you shouldn't be wearing it in the classroom.

"All I said is no blue jeans, no flip-flops and no shorts just below the knee," he reiterated. "If I have staff, and that's the gist of their wardrobe, that would concern me."

North is new to the school system and has only been on the job for a matter of months. Many were surprised that this was on his agenda. But the superintendent said it was not his focus at all. The question, he said, came up at a retreat when a principal asked his expectation for the dress code. That's when he sent the email, and he said he stands by it.

But it's left some teachers confused, wondering about the age-old question of how to define Capris: Are they long shorts? Or short pants?

11Alive asked Superintendent North, who said if the pants fall just above or below the knee -- it's a "No." But if the Capris sit just a few inches above the ankle, that's OK.

"A longer version of shorts, it isn't business. It isn't professional," North said. "If a teacher comes into the building with pants just above the ankle, no one is going to say a word."

North said he believes people are making a mountain out of a mole hill, but he said if it matters to the teachers, it matters to him. Despite that, he said he stands behind his decision, and he hopes teachers won't become disengaged because of it.

WEIGH IN | What do you think of the Capri "controversy"?

 

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