Wearing Jeans in School

In 1970, the school board in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, approved a dress code that prohibited students from wearing certain types of clothing. (31)The school board members believed that wearing “play clothes” to school made the students inefficient toward (32)their school work, while more formal attire established a positive educational climate. When twelve-year-old Kevin Bannister wore a pair of blue jeans to school, he was sent home for violating the dress code.  Kevin and his parents believed that his constitutional rights had been violated.(33)

The United States District Court of New Hampshire; (34)agreed to hear Kevin’s case. His claim was based on the notion of personal liberty—the right of every individual to the control of his or her own person—protected by the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. The court agreed with Kevin that a person’s right for wearing (35)clothing of his or her own choosing is, in fact, protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The court noted, however (36)that restrictions may be justified in some circumstances, such as in the school setting. So did Kevin have a right to wear blue jeans to school? The court determined that the school board had failed to show that wearing jeans actually inhibited the educational process, which is guided by authority figures. (37)

Furthermore, the board offered no evidence to back up it’s (38)claim that (39)such clothing created a negative educational environment. Certainly the school board would be justified in prohibiting students from wearing clothing that was unsanitary, revealing, or obscene. The court remained unconvinced, therefore, (40)that when wearing (41)jeans would actually impair the learning process of Kevin or of his fellow classmates. Kevin Bannister’s case was significant in that it was the first in the United States to address clothing prohibitions of a school dress code. (42) His challenge initiated a review, of students’ rights (43)and administrative responsibility in (44)public education.


42. Which choice would most effectively open this paragraph and convey the importance of this case?


  • G. Therefore, Kevin’s case reminds us that you
    should stand up for your rights, no matter how old
    you are.

  • H. The case for personal liberty means the right to
    speak up must be taken seriously by the courts.

  • J. All in all, clothing is an important part of our identity.