Dress Codes Versus Rights

Ventura County high school students are invited to enter a monthly essay contest sponsored by The Times. This month's topic:

Many schools limit how students dress--banning baggy pants, for example--to curb gang activity. Do such rules infringe unnecessarily on student rights, or are they important to keep campuses safe?

Here are the contest rules:

* Eligibility: Any Ventura County high school student may enter.

* Content: Essays must be no longer than 600 words.

* Required information: Entries must include the writer's name, age, grade and school. A home address and phone number must also be supplied, but will not be published.

* Deadline: Essays must be received by noon March 23.

* Submission: Entries should be mailed or delivered to: Education Page Editor, Los Angeles Times, 93 S. Chestnut St., Ventura 93001. They may be submitted by fax (653-7576) or e-mail to jack.robinson@latimes.com

* Judging: Winning entries will be chosen by Times editors for originality, persuasiveness, logic and handling of the mechanics of writing, such as grammar, spelling and syntax. Research and reference to current events will be considered. Decisions are final and within the discretion of The Times.

* Publication: Contestants must agree to publication of their work in the newspaper and on The Times' Web site, subject to editing.

* Prizes: The winner, to receive $100, will be announced on the Education Page on April 6.

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