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SANTA FE, NM (KRQE) – Santa Fe Public Schools is changing its dress code, but not in the way parents and students might expect.

"To allow principals to spend more time on student behavior, teaching and learning, behavioral and mental health," SFPS Superintendent Veronica C. Garcia said. "We do need to focus on behavior and mental health as a preventative as increasing school safety. The feedback we’ve gotten from both principals and teachers was that there were aspects of the dress code that were taking time away from the real essential core work of teaching and learning."

She said the district, starting this fall, is actually easing up on enforcing that code, claiming staff will turn the focus on the student’s behavior and not what he or she is wearing.

"So, if you’re wearing your hat backwards but your behavior is appropriate, and you’re walking on campus, no one is going to spend time trying to discipline the student," Garcia added.

"Hopefully, fingers crossed, nobody abuses it. I think it’s a good thing," said parent Crystal Atencio.

What will likely be the most noticeable change is the fact there will be no more uniforms, or what’s called "standard dress," at the kindergarten through eighth grade levels, meaning they had to wear a specific style shirt and pants.

"This makes it much more simple for parents to follow. And, for low-income families, we found it is more cost-effective for them," Garcia said.

It’s also a relief for those parents who stress over the dress code.

"It’s hard sometimes if they get their shirts stained or dirty you gotta run out and they can’t just throw on another shirt and sometimes they can’t even go to class which is tough," Atencio said.

Students agree it’s time for a change.

"It feels great, honestly, because, like, we don’t really like the dress code here and so, yeah, we don’t really follow it," SFPS student Katy Zecena said.

Under the new dress code, the district wants every parent and child to know that school is a welcoming place for students of any religion, sex or gender identity.

The district will review the new changes after the first nine weeks of the upcoming school year to decide whether to keep them permanently.

As for other districts, Rio Rancho Public Schools will discuss its dress code on Monday, but as of now doesn’t have any proposed changes.

APS said it’s not planning to change its dress code this year.

Check the SFPS dress code here.

Check the APS dress code here.

Check the Rio Rancho dress code here.

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