Uniforms not part of recommendations for dress code

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Naugatuck High School junior Alida Maldonado, right, and her mother Cheryl Poirier speak about the school’s dress code to the Board of Education meeting in October. –FILE PHOTO
Naugatuck High School junior Alida Maldonado, right, and her mother Cheryl Poirier speak about the school’s dress code to the Board of Education meeting in October. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education’s policy subcommittee decided Tuesday that borough students should not have to conform to a uniform-style dress code.

Parents and students asked the school board for uniforms last fall while Naugatuck High School cracked down on dress code violators, setting off a heated debate at the school. A setup similar to Waterbury’s, which requires students to wear polo shirts and dress pants, would make enforcement less arbitrary, parents and students said.

The policy subcommittee then held meetings with students, parents and teachers, said Scott Slauson, chairman of the subcommittee.

“Most parents were against a strict uniform,” Slauson said. “They were in favor of a revised dress code that made a little more sense.”

Parents said buying new school clothes for their children would be costly, and if uniforms were required, the borough would have to institute a plan to provide for families who could not afford them. About half of the high school students favored uniforms, but the other half said they just wanted the current dress code to be more specific.

“Basically, the overall consensus was something that was more defined,” Slauson said.

George Macary, president of the teachers’ union, met with the subcommittee to represent teachers on a night most had to attend parent-teacher conferences that had been rescheduled due to a snowstorm, Slauson said. The teachers were willing to work with whatever the board decided, Slauson said.

The four-member subcommittee will likely recommend changes in the dress code to the full school board in April, but the revisions will not include a uniform policy, Slauson said. The updated code would go into effect next school year.

The school board’s policy manual currently contains a district-wide student dress code that individual schools can alter slightly.

Slauson and the subcommittee’s other members — Glenn Connan, Jim Scully and Diana Malone — want to create one dress code for kindergarten through sixth grade and another for seventh through 12th grade. They will write the new codes with input from school principals, Slauson said.

The subcommittee plans to add language to clarify some areas students have said are vague. For example, the current code says pants cannot sag to expose underwear, but students have tried to circumvent that by wearing shorts underneath their pants, Slauson said. The subcommittee will try to define what constitutes “pajama bottoms” and where holes in jeans might be acceptable — such as a small fray near a pocket.

The Naugatuck Teachers’ League contract stipulates teachers must dress in “business attire.” The policy subcommittee will craft a memorandum for teachers explaining what they believe that means, Slauson said.