PORTLAND (AP) – Some high schools and middle schools in southern Maine have drafted rules on the clothes students can wear this fall, whether they can carry cell phones, even what games they can play between classes.

Portland High School has banned card and dice games on school property. The rule came in response to a campus gambling trend.

“Kids have been playing cards for a number of years,” assistant principal Lee Crocker said. “We just started to see there was actual money being exchanged.”

Some students ended up fighting over unpaid gambling debts, he said.

Across town at Deering High School, the principal hired a lawyer to define “appropriate” attire for its 1,300 students.

“We sought to tighten policy,” Principal Brenda Roy said. “There’s different standards: what’s appropriate for me, may not be appropriate for you.”

The school now bans “revealing clothing, including but not limited to one-shoulder shirts, low-cut tops, halters, bare midriffs, short shirts, skirts less than six inches above the knee, bare back shirts.” Also forbidden are T-shirts with references to drugs or sex, or that advertise “alcohol, tobacco, or otherwise promotes the use of illegal substances.”

Students who violate the dress code are asked to either turn offending clothes inside out, change or cover up. In extreme cases, students might get sent home or serve detention after multiple warnings.

While some schools are tightening dress codes and other rules, other districts are getting rid of regulations. Old Orchard Beach High School has rolled back a four-year ban on cell phones at school.

“They were just so prolific,” Assistant Principal Margaret Lapointe said. “It got to the point where a total ban was not practical.”

Close to 85 percent of the school’s students have cell phones.

Students can now bring them to campus, but can’t use them during school hours.

Parents are often the biggest proponents of allowing children to carry cell phones, some administrators said.

“The ability to instantly access kids is a reality for families today,” said Tom Parker, principal of Mildred L. Day School in Arundel, where about 20 percent of seventh- and eighth-graders carry a cell phone.

AP-ES-09-01-04 1015EDT



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