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 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 A home address and phone number must be supplied, but will not be published.

* Deadline: Essays must be received by noon today.

* 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 writing. Research and reference will be considered.

* 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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