Flap flares up over flip-flops, student fashion


The Mirror

Feet may be a bit more sweaty in Federal Way schools next year.

Flip-flops are among the items to be banned in a new dress code proposed by school board members who say the shoes are dangerous for working in science labs and walking in crowded hallways.

School board president Evelyn Castellar, the only dissenter on the board, said banning flip-flops is ridiculous.

“The safety argument isn’t really real,” Castellar said. “I want to know how many times we’ve had to pay for a toe, or if it’s ever even happened.”

Other items that may be banned include pajamas, loungewear, slippers, unusually low-riding pants, exposed stomachs or cleavage and short skirts or shorts.

The school board will vote Tuesday, June 27.

As school let out Wednesday afternoon, flip-flop-footed students poured out the doors and onto sidewalks and streets in front of Federal Way High School.

Nearly half of the students had exposed toes.

“I wear them practically every day,” said Federal Way student Alla Zatsepa, 16. “They’re just really comfy. Your feet get more refreshed.”

Students aren’t wearing flip-flops simply because they’re comfortable, said school board member Charles Hoff. They wear them because it’s a fashion statement.

“I believe school is a place for learning, not a place to make fashion statements,” Hoff said. “Dress has become far too important in the school day, in an era where we have to have achievement as our top priority.”

Hoff remembers when he was in school in Pennsylvania.

“No T-shirts were permitted and we certainly wore shoes,” he said. “I don’t recall there was a great deal of fashion statementing going on.”

Janae Moses, a 17-year-old Federal Way student, disagrees that wearing the flat, backless sandals is a fashion statement.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” Moses said. “By showing my feet, that’s not making the boys look at you. I could see low-cut shirts, but not your feet.”

Truman student Peter Brooks, 17, said it would only be a mild inconvenience for him to be unable to wear flip-flops to school.

He pointed out that the straps in the back of his own shoes, securing the foot, were the difference between sandals and flip-flops — and they appeared slightly more professional.

Sandals would not be affected by the ban.

Brooks, like several students interviewed Wednesday, doesn’t mind the ban on pajamas in schools.

“I never really wear pajamas. Anyone who did is just weird. It’s really unprofessional,” he said.

Moses agreed.

“That’s just tacky,” she said.

However, she worries that if pajamas and sweats are banned, student athletes won’t be able to wear their gear on game days.

“That’s how you let people know,” she said, “so everybody could acknowledge that you’re involved with your school.”

Castellar said the pajama ban won’t affect student athletes.

“When we say loungewear, we mean pajamas, we don’t mean sweats,” she said. “Some of the pajamas, the material is flimsy and it’s almost see-through and it’s inappropriate.

“I don’t think we meant to exclude the appropriate wear for sports. I will make that clarification,” Castellar said.

Contact writer Margo Horner at or call (253) 925-5565.

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