HHS Dress Code Under Scrutiny for Outdated Rules, Arbitrary Application

Haverhill High School Principal Beth Kitsos and members of the Student Council are working on updating the school’s dress code, and it appears their efforts couldn’t be more timely.

Kyrielle Ross, a 2014 graduate of Haverhill High, said her 16-year-old sister, Catrina, was disciplined for violating the school’s dress code.

The Classical Academy student was removed from class on Tuesday for wearing a tank top with slim straps that left her shoulders mostly bare. The temperature on that day exceeded 90 degrees.

According to the HHS student handbook, the dress code states: “Sleeveless shirts are acceptable, however tank tops with less than 1-inch straps, tops with spaghetti straps, halter tops, strapless or low cut shirts are unacceptable.”

Ross spoke at Thursday’s School Committee meeting, telling members that the dress code is applied arbitrarily and inappropriately.

“It’s being applied selectively; more to females who weigh a little more or are more developed,” Ross said.

Girls are being told that their attire is distracting their male classmates, and others, Ross said.

“Female teachers are telling girls that male teachers are finding (their clothing) provocative. If that’s the case, there’s a bigger problem,” Ross said.

On her Facebook page, Ross posted Catrina’s photo, (pictured) showing the shirt she was wearing when her teacher removed her from class.

School Committee member Maura Ryan Ciardiello said she saw the post and didn’t understand the problem.

“I was baffled, to say the least,” Ryan Ciardiello said. “I apologize and I’ll work diligently with my colleagues to resolve this.”

Isabela Yepes, president of the Student Council and student representative to the School Committee, said she is hopeful that Kitsos will favor softening the dress code.

“Seeing how friendly she was with changing the hat policy, I’m hoping she will be that way again,” Yepes said of Kitsos.

“With the warm weather and the new styles, I would love to wear off-the-shoulder and tank tops,” Yepes said, but until the policy is changed, she said she understands that teachers and administrators have to enforce the policy the way it is.

Committee member Paul Magliocchetti told Ross the policy subcommittee would meet to discuss the dress code and schedule the meeting at a time when students could attend and have direct input.

Superintendent James F. Scully said Kitsos had planned to revisit the dress code long before Tuesday’s incident with Ross’ sister.

"In the schools, the administrators have rules that they have to follow. Let the people in the school system who are being paid to run the schools run them,” Scully said.


20 thoughts on “HHS Dress Code Under Scrutiny for Outdated Rules, Arbitrary Application

  1. I’m an old “towny” , still live here with kids of my own. Waaaay back in 1988 or maybe 1989 we , as a united student body, fought the dress code and won. It was an extra long year because of snow days and extra hot because of el nino/ la nina effects from the west. The heat was 95o+ and they were still having school , violating health and safety codes at the time. None of the air conditioning units worked except 1 quad in the 100’s science wing where old mayor Bill Ryan’s daughter had class and it magically got repaired. We were all told over the morning announcements that shorts and tank tops were not acceptable and any students who arrived at school from that point forward would be sent home. The next day the first 3 kids to arrive were sent home , then the buses started rolling in. The entire student body came to school in shorts and tanks. No one else went home. Now mind you this was the times when tanks had inch plus wide straps and boys wore jams below their knees and most girls wore what is now Bermuda length shorts but, these styles are now extremely hard to find in youth sizes. We don’t need to change the dress code . We need to make sure that the school and all of its environmental controls ie. heaters , ac units , dehumidifying condensers, weather stripping around doors and windows are all being maintained and repaired when needed, then none of this would be a problem! Use your heads , fix the real problem- the building! and stop messing with the kids, its not their fault it hot!

  2. Haverhill isn’t a place where one would expect people to “dress for success”. The Pajama pants, slippers and concert t-shirt ensemble is considered “the Haverhill tuxedo.” Look around town. The kids in school couldn’t do much worse than the grown ups walking around the city streets.

  3. OK, I admit this is ancient history ( HHS Class of 66) but in the Olden Days Guys wore jackets and ties, Gals wore dresses and skirts. I guess they were trying to prepare us for adult life and jobs. A key factor would be putting our best foot forward. Sadly, I have not see Haverhill in many years so I can only report my experience. Business dress gave as self pride and school pride. Maybe that still exists today. I hope so.

    • Self pride in the halls of HHS?!?!?
      Underwear hanging out, just as of a couple of yrs ago it was the girls walking around with the g string up their backs. Now it’s yoga pants and slippers.. lets not forget pajamas..
      This isn’t all the students.
      Preparing the young adults for the future. Good luck to the future.
      As I said in an earlier post, she knew the rule, she chose to break it and now she is the victim…
      But again let’s focus on this and not the education and the other issues happening at the school.
      On another note, maybe this news feed could do a little positive reporting on the schools.

  4. The dress code should be updated and made tougher. The dress code should have students in khakis and a polo shirt. Funny how it is ok in Lawrence to have a tougher dress code but not it Haverhill ? That would make it so much easier and less expensive for parents. Then there would be no class envy based on what kids are wearing or cannot afford to wear.

    • Jack, it was Jim Scully who instituted the dress code in Lawrence when he was superintendent there . The comments you make in favor of it are the exact reasons Scully used when implementing it.

      Do you remember the dress code issue Scully had to address when he became superintendent here in Haverhill? He had to deal teachers who dressed so poorly in city schools that he had to make a public issue of it. Teachers with long hair and ponytails, wearing ripped jeans and flip flops, etc….His message was how were they going to instill a sense of pride and professionalism in students when the teachers themselves dressed like they were going to the beach for the day.

      The guy is a class act. He won’t be easily replaced.

      • Jim Scully is not a class act. Like everyone else, he can and will be replaced. His comment “Let the people in the school system who are being paid to run the schools run them.” is a typical haughty and silly response.
        And Maura Ryan-Ciardiello stopped texting long enough to make her ridiculous comments. She has done nothing other than vote in unison with her brother-in-law.

        • john smith….haughty and silly?
          Do you even know what he meant by his comment to let school administrators deal with the issue?

          What’s next….having public school committee meetings on what part of the playground kids can play on during recess? Whether student artwork should be displayed in school classrooms? Is this the kind of important decision making you want elected school committee members working on?

          • In the future I will remember that you are the “official” translator of Scully’s comments.

    • I am shocked to hear you are in favor of forcing a uniform on someone. Dress codes should just be enforced and not embarrass or harass the child when they violate it.

  5. “Let the people in the school system who are being paid to run the schools run them,” Scully said.

    Exactly! This issue shouldn’t be on a school committee agenda. The incompetent fools on the committee would rather discuss this than the very serious issues facing the city.

    Haverhill public schools have an estimated 1,100 students attending city schools who are children of parents illegally in this country. Those students are costing city taxpayers over $13MILLION a year to educate. Democrats in the city are going to elect a pro-illegal immigrant candidate regardless of who it is. That sends signals to illegals that they are welcome in the city, which will attract more of them which will further increase the operating costs of city schools.

    And here’s the school committee taking time discussing spaghetti straps and tank tops. Unbelievable…..

  6. Dress code was in place, student violated dress code and now big sister has a problem with her sister violating the dress code. Was it an issue when big sister attended?
    Bigger picture here is the education, drop out rate, the lack of discipline in the school and the attitude of some students to do as they please.
    I am glad they are “revisiting” the dress code but it shouldn’t be a priority when there are many other issues going on in that building.

    Not sure how WHAV makes decisions on the news stories but I question the reasons whether underlying or other reasons as to why this story made news, never mind first listed item.

    • I bet it was a problem when the older sister went. It was in the early 2000’s when I was there. They don’t need to harass people who violate the code or say its a distraction to boys either.

      I agree with your other points.

      • mt, I’m curious…when professional women “and” male teachers with a lot of life experience say it’s a distraction to boys, more than likely based on actual events, why aren’t they supposed to say that?

          • TM…wanna try again?
            Why “specifically” shouldn’t teachers say inappropriately dressed girls provide a distraction to boys? What’s wrong with them saying that?