Oakville Principal Apologizes for Speech


Photo courtesy of the Mehlville School District

The fingertip test, no spaghetti strap tops, and no inappropriate shirts that display alcohol or drugs. These rules are all well known to the students of the Mehlville School District.

Dress codes in schools around America including Mehlville have been the topic of debate for a long time. One local administrator has been under fire for her remarks regarding the dress code including telling girls to cover up because it “distracts boys” and even telling boys not to wear “wife beater” tank tops.

Oakville High School Principal Janet Kellerman gave a speech to freshmen on the first day of school talking about the school’s dress code. Kellerman told students girls shouldn’t show their “boobs, bellies, or butts” so they don’t distract boys.

Parents filed complaints, saying the comments were sexist. At open house, Kellerman apologized to parents. She told parents she would apologize to the students as well. Because of these remarks, it’s opened some debate at Mehlville about the district’s dress code.

“It exists to create order in school and create a safe and welcoming environment,” said Mehlville High School Assistant Principal Greg Ruzicka.

According to Ruzicka, the dress code is controversial because “kids want to express themselves. They don’t want adults telling them what to do.”

He claims Mehlville’s and other school’s dress codes are only debatable because kids refuse to listen to authority. Mehlville sophomore Aida Hodzic says otherwise, stating the dress code is biased toward young women when the argument is made that guys are distracted.

“Girls wearing short shorts ‘distracts’ guys? Why are they looking at them in the first place?” Hodzic questions.

Ruzicka responds to the question of if the code is more geared towards girls. “Yes they are. The way it is written it’s not but it’s enforced more to girls” He says it doesn’t literally gear towards girls but it’s “just the nature.”

Hodzic suggests we do not need the dress code at all. “People aren’t going to show up to school naked,” said Hodzic. She even goes as far as to say “if you’re going to control what people wear, then give us uniforms.”

Ruzicka believes all components of the policy are reasonable except for one: number six, which states that students aren’t allowed to wear hats, hoods, or head garments. He says the rule has been relaxed in recent years due to religious reasons. This school year, students are now allowed to wear hoods, hats and du-rags, though teachers can still disallow it in their individual classrooms if they choose. 

“The school dress code is vague. It’s vague for a reason.” says Ruzicka. Hodzic disagrees and claims “the dress code is very strict, especially toward females.”

Currently, Mehlville has no plan on changing the entirety of the dress code besides the changes that have been made to the ‘no hat’ policy.