Parents voice concern over dress code issues at Rancho Santa Fe School

By Karen Billing

Today’s fashion styles of skinny jeans and yoga pants are causing problems for girls at R. Roger Rowe School to meet the dress code. A handful of parents came before the RSF School District board at its Nov. 7 meeting to voice their code complaints.

“There’s a real problem with the current dress code,” said parent Audrey Buchner. “The vast majority of parents with girls will tell you that.”

Buchner, who was wearing a top, scarf, and skinny jeans at the board meeting, said she wouldn’t pass the dress code standards at Rowe.

According to the dress code, the following items are “inappropriate or disruptive to the educational process”: “Any attire that exposes the midriff, visible undergarments and all tight-fitting pants not covered with a shirt or dress that is longer than a closed fist in length when [an] arm is held straight at the side.”

As Buchner pointed out, they’re living in a time when the shorts are very short and the jeans are very tight. She brought a printout from The Gap’s website of its current pant selection and 30 of the 31 pants available are skinny, super skinny or jeggings.

“They’re all tight and they all cannot be worn with the current code,” Buchner said. “We have a lot of struggles with our children about what they can actually wear to school and it’s become a problem.”

The parents said the girls do not want to wear baggy shorts or baggy pants that are not in style.

For other parents, such as Lynn Frank, the skinny jeans are all that fit her petite child. To stay within the code her child ends up “swimming in a shirt” when required to wear a larger top that goes past her fists.

Parent Sally La Rocca said it’s become so difficult that she’d rather the children wear uniforms.

According to RSF School District Superintendent Lindy Delaney, the school district did consider uniforms in 2002. She said they went as far as picking out what the students would wear but ran into issues because public schools can’t mandate a uniform for all students.

According to Richard Currier, the district’s attorney, uniforms haven’t been an issue for the last eight to 10 years when some public school districts in California went for dress codes to deal with gang-related problems. According to state law, uniforms can be made available for students but there must be opt-out provisions. Currier said parents were initially interested in the code but then more and more began to seek waivers.

Delaney said the “no skinny jeans” rule in Rowe’s dress code was established because when the pant style first came out the pants were very low cut and there was a lot of skin and undergarments showing. She understands now that the style is basically all that is currently available in a jean, but the code is there for a reason.

“The dress code holds students to a higher standard and it makes for a better environment,” Delaney said. “Fashions are just different but if you don’t maintain the code, you’d have a lot going on that’s inappropriate.”

Trustee Todd Frank proposed that a survey might be considered regarding the possibility of uniforms.