If you're a student at Summerville High School, you'd better not have your pants on the ground.

What's more, there's a problem with jeggings, leggings that look like tight jeans. They cannot be worn as pants.

Both are violations of the Dorchester District 2 dress code, and at Summerville High, that can get a student suspended.

The school has gotten serious about enforcing the rules this week.

"I haven't changed the dress code," said Principal Buddy Chapel, who is in his first year at the school. "The dress code has been the same since I got here, and the kids have known the dress code since the beginning of the year."

Even so, some of the school's 2,800 students who refused to follow it have been suspended this week. Chapel said he didn't know how many students were sent home, but some associated with the school estimated 35 students.

"It's not about numbers with me," Chapel said. "It's about dealing with individual kids. The largest majority of the student body follows the dress code. It is just a small percentage of repeat offenders who make this a big issue."

Last week, Chapel met with students to address concerns he felt were "disrupting the learning environment." Those included improper use of Facebook or text messages, disrespect to adults, and the school's dress code. Letters also went home to parents.

District policy calls for first-time offenders to be sent to the office and not return to class until an appropriate change has been made. Repeat offenders can be assigned to in-school suspension.

Until Monday, that was the policy at Summerville, but Chapel said those "interventions have not been effective in eradicating this problem."

District officials were aware of Chapel's plans to enforce the policy, said spokeswoman Pat Raynor.

"The dress code is in the district handbook and online," she said. "It has some specific no-nos, but it also has a caveat that the principal does have the flexibility to address additional things. Sometimes what may become a concern at one school may not be at another school."

Ashley Ridge and Fort Dorchester, the other high schools in District 2, have not had to strengthen enforcement of the policy, officials said.

But Chapel said dealing with improperly dressed students was interfering with teaching at Summerville.

"We need to get focused on instruction and not dealing with kids dressing improperly when they come to school," he said.

Raynor said the district office has had some calls from parents with questions, but most have been supportive. Chapel agreed.

"The parents, students, faculty and administration had all talked to me about the fact that the dress code needed to be addressed," Chapel said. "It had gotten out of hand. We're just doing what the greatest part of the community wants us to do. I'm just hoping it stops so we can get back to what we're here to do."

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/b.rindge.