Joplin School Board approves more relaxed dress code for district teachers

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Tattoos and piercings are often frowned upon in a professional setting – for jobs like teachers. But, the Joplin School District is now relaxing its policy on having them in the classroom.

“I’ve got a cross, this says ‘Justice,'” explained Matt Stanley.

Stanley is an audio/video teacher at Joplin High School — and he has tattoos.

And while policy used to say those should be covered up, the rules are relaxing.

“I think part of it’s generations – I think there’s just a big change in how generations view things, because I think my generation, which is Generation X, views it totally differently that what Baby Boomers view tattoos as,” Stanley added.

The Joplin School Board voted to replace the old policy which said no tattoos should be visible, and no piercings allowed other than those in ears.

“We’ve narrowed our wording to just say that employees need to dress professionally,” Superintendent Dr. Melinda Moss explained. “And, in a manner that doesn’t interfere with the educational environment.”

Moss says the switch brings the district more in-line with trends around the state.

“The suggested language is from the Missouri State School Board Association – our wording now mirrors what our surrounding districts have,” Moss continued.

Extreme cases of tattoos and piercings are still banned — for example, if they’re obscene or have an offensive image.

“We want teachers to dress in a respectable manner because we know we are role models for our students,” said Moss.

District leaders add that the effort to comply with the old policy was sometimes a distraction itself — for example, an employee could be wearing a bandage on their arm, causing students to ask if they had been hurt.

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