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Dress code spurs petition at Kahuku High and Intermediate

Published On: Aug 30 2013 12:33:01 AM HST
Updated On: Aug 30 2013 11:33:20 AM HST

Some students at Kahuku Intermediate and High School say the school's dress code has gone too far, by requiring girls to cover-up too much. A petition started this week hopes to change the policy while giving students a voice on how they dress.

Kahuku, Hawaii -

They're not quite ready to crack the country's fiscal fiasco, or solve world hunger for that matter. However, India Pyzel and Isabella Walker do have something to say about the dress code at Kahuku High and Intermediate School – both girls believe it goes too far.

Under a policy set forth by the school's community council, girls' skirts, dresses and shorts must be the length of the middle finger while both arms are resting at a person's sides.

With the temperature in Kahuku Thursday in the upper 80s, students like Pyzel and Walker say the dress code makes it difficult to obtain maximum comfort, especially since the school lacks air conditioning.

"You're worrying about how you're sweating and your back and it's gross," said Pyzel. "You don't feel comfortable and you don't feel focused on your learning, and you just kind of sit there and you're like, 'OK, can I go home now?'"

An even greater concern for the two girls is how the school deals with students who don't follow the dress code rules. Violators are sent to the cafeteria, where they do menial chores like throwing out the trash, or they do absolutely nothing at all.

"If your parents don't bring you any clothes, you're stuck there for the whole day, or for how ever long the day is," said Walker.

After first complaining about the dress code to school administrators, Pyzel and Walker decided to take their concerns to fellow students in the form of a petition. Since the petition began Monday, the girls have gathered more than 600 signatures, both online and on paper. However, not all of the signatures come from the 1,600 students who attend Kahuku.

"Our vice-principal, Mrs. Macadangdang, told us that if we want to do something about it, the students have a voice and do a petition," said Pyzel. "We have gotten a lot of positive reaction."

The petition states girls at the school would like to wear yoga and workout pants, as long as they aren't see-through. They're also requesting a change to the way hemlines of skirts, dresses and shorts are measured when arms are at rest.

"We're not saying that to get rid of the dress code completely, we just really think that we should be allowed to wear workout pants to school, as well as shorts that go to our thumbs instead of our middle fingers," said Walker.

Officials at Kahuku High and Intermediate refused an on-camera interview with KITV4, but an official at the school said the dress code has been in existence for years. However, the official conceded enforcement by school administrators has increased since the beginning of the new school year.

According to the Department of Education, each school's community council is responsible for setting dress codes, as long as it represents the majority views of the community. In existence since 2005, community councils consist of principals, teachers, school staff, parents, students and members of the community.

Situated on Oahu's North Shore, Kahuku High and Intermediate is less than three miles from Laie, which is heavily influenced by the Mormon Church. Walker says the dress code at Kahuku closely mirrors that of BYU-Hawaii.

"There's a lot of different religions and we believe in how we want to dress," explained Walker. "I do believe there should be some dress code, as long as you come to school in tasteful attire."

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