There was so much talk of jeggings, skinny jeans and spandex at the school board's policy committee meeting Tuesday night that it could have been a GAP sales associate orientation.
Members of the committee debated – and eventually tabled until March – a proposed amendment to the district's dress code policy that would ban form-fitting tops, bottoms and dresses for Meriden students, based on the idea that they are too revealing.
Associate Superintendent Robert Angeli told the committee that his office developed the new standards after talking to principals at the city's high schools and middle schools.
"The district's principals...periodically come to us and ask for some adjustment of their (dress code) policy," Angeli said. "The most recent request that came forward dealt with clothing that is very form fitting to the point where it is actually revealing – in particular clothing that could be worn for exercise."
The new language, submitted by the Superintendent's office says:
• Blouses/shirts should not be form fitting either by use of materials, such as but not limited to, leotard or spandex or by cut and design. Undergarments may not be worn as outerwear.
• Skirts/Shorts/Dresses/Pants should not be form fitting either by use of materials, such as but not limited to, leotard or spandex or by cut and design. Undergarments may not be worn as outerwear.
Two students and a number of committee members argued against passing the amendment as written, with some saying that the words "form-fitting" were too vague.
"I'm small and 'skinny jeans' are the only jeans that fit me without being baggy," said Platt High School Freshman Christine Pandiani, who stood up to show the slim cut "skinny jeans" she was wearing, which appeared to fit the 93-pound girl comfortably.
Pandiani, daughter of new board member (R), told the board she had worn the pants to school that day. Later in the meeting Carbone-Pandiani asked those at the meeting if her daughter's clothes looked appropriate.
Committee members and Schools Superintendent Mark Benigni agreed that the girl was appropriately dressed for school.
Board member Rob Kosienski (R) recommended the board form a dress code committee of students, faculty and parents to formulate different language for the rule, as they did during some previous dress code updates.
"Let’s hear from students and let’s hear from parents," Kosienski said, mentioning that he'd gone through both high schools in the last week with the dress code amendment in mind and noticed that, "jeggings (a tight jean-legging hybrid, pictured) were on 80 percent of the kids."
Board President Mark Hughes (D), said the language was purposely broad, so that school administrators could enforce it as they see fit.
"If we said 'no jeggings'...five years from now jeggings are going to be back but called something different," Hughes said. "The Board’s giving the administration guidelines to assess what’s an issue, what’s not an issue."
Board Member Scott Hozebin (R) said giving guidelines wasn't clear enough.
"(I have a) problem with policies when things are vague," Hozebin said. "Then it negates the point of having a policy if it’s not clear to the principal what’s right and what’s wrong."
Board Member Irene Parisi (D), agreed that the language should be very specific, saying that trying to enforce a broad policy can be more work for administrators and lead to unnecessary conflicts. She added that many clothes today have a certain amount of spandex in them – likely including the jacket she was wearing.
The policy committee voted to table a vote on the amendment until their March meeting, asking the administration to further flesh out the language and possible applications.