Students voice concerns with dress code

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Alida Maldonado talks to members of the Naugatuck Board of Education last Thursday night as her mother, Cheryl Poirier, stands by her side. Maldonado and Poirier advocated for school uniforms. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Spitballs, swearing, and wearing black yoga pants are three activities that can land a Naugatuck High School student in in-school suspension.

The way the dress code is enforced in Naugatuck as some students calling for it to be more uniformed.

The Board of Education’s policy committee has been working to standardize school dress codes across the district over recent weeks. It’s a discussion that has garnered much attention lately.

About a dozen parents and students showed up at the board’s meeting last Thursday to address the topic.

Board Chairman David Heller began the meeting by explaining that the board would not have a debate on dress code that evening, but welcomed anyone from the public to come forward to speak.

Naugatuck High junior Alida Maldonado and her mother Cheryl Poirier spoke out in opposition to what they feel were inconsistencies in the enforcement of the dress code.

Maldonado wore a grey hooded sweatshirt and black yoga pants; the exact outfit she had been called out of class for.

“I personally don’t like getting taken out of class for what I’m wearing. I don’t think any other student would like getting taken out of class for what [they’re] wearing,” Maldonado said.

Poirier said that her daughter feels like she is being singled out and picked on for the way she dresses.

Poirier said that the parents are informed and involved in their children’s lives and do their parts in making sure the students leave the house dressed well.

“Myself going as far as the Naugatuck High School dress code as a guide to shopping for school clothes this year,” Poirier said.

Poirier said her daughter was pulled out of class, taken to the dean’s office, missed class, and then it was decided that she was not in violation of the dress code after all.

Poirier felt that her daughter was better dressed than many students and even some of the staff at the high school.

“What appears to go on at the high school is this rampant inconstancy when it comes to the dress code regulations. What is deemed legal for by one teacher is considered illegal to another teacher,” Poirier said.

Maldonado was concerned that being pulled out of class for what she was wearing had a detrimental effect on her education.

“I’m not only missing the lesson for the day, I’m missing the work. They send home the work to you, but I don’t know what I am doing if I wasn’t in class learning what I had to do for that paper,” Maldonado said.

Both Poirier and Maldonado felt that having a school uniform would be a boon to Naugatuck High.

“I would very much love to have a uniform. It would be so much easier on me in the morning. It would be easier on my mom,” Maldonado said.

Renee Marquis, a junior, has also been in trouble for violating the dress code with an outfit she felt was perfectly acceptable. Marquis echoed the sentiments of Poirier and Maldonado that the dress code is not enforced properly or evenly. According to Marquis, there is a girl who attaches a tail to the back of her jeans and wears a collar to school and has not been in trouble for violating the dress code.

Marquis also favored uniforms for both school clothes and gym clothes. She said she has a difficult time finding shorts for gym class that the school does not say are too short.

Scott Slauson, chairman of the board’s policy committee, said the committee is moving forward with the input from teachers, parents, and students.

“Basically, with the input from all three, we will formulate and review what we have and address the dress code,” Slauson said.

Slauson said that the committee is looking into the dress code so that it can unify the handbooks, rather than having varied dress codes for all schools.

“We hadn’t discussed at the time any type of uniforms. Obviously uniforms have been brought up since,” Slauson said. “So, of course, uniforms will also be looked into.”