According to legal experts, the ban on jogging pants for pupils issued by the secondary school in Wermelskirchen is legally untenable. “There is no basis for an individual ban. The legal situation is pretty clear,” said Professor Hinnerk Wissmann, professor at the University of M√ľnster, the German Press Agency.

The North Rhine-Westphalian school law leaves little room for maneuver in this regard. “The school conference can make a recommendation on dress code issues, but nothing more.” Accordingly, wearing sweatpants cannot be considered a breach of duty that justifies exclusion from class. This undermines the right to education, said Wissmann.

Sweatpants not a breach of duty

The school can impose educational and regulatory measures against students in individual cases. For this, however, there would have to be a breach of duty, which the mere wearing of jogging pants does not represent. “There would have to be more,” said Wissmann, who advised the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on questions of school law.

If a conversation with the school management is not fruitful and neither is a petition to the school authority, those affected could seek legal protection against the exclusion from class at the administrative courts.

Professor Markus Ogorek from the University of Cologne expressed a similar view: “A recommendation cannot, in the literal sense, be an obligation.” The exclusion of students who wear sports shorts should therefore not be legally covered: “Anyone who wants to take sanctions for not following a recommendation simply ignores its lack of binding effect,” says the legal scholar.

In view of the conscious determination by the legislature, there is also no room to enforce an obligation across the board via constructions such as endangering the school peace, explained Ogorek.

School will maintain dress code

The management of a secondary school in Wermelskirchen had sent students home in jogging pants to change. This caused anger among students and parents. “Despite criticism in the media,” the school said it wanted to maintain the dress code. “We want to encourage our students to wear clothes that don’t tempt them to chill.” In order to prepare for professional life, it is important to move away from jogging pants.

According to the school, six parents of affected students complained, as the district government of Cologne announced when asked, because they were sent home to change.