Rancho Santa Fe School board to vote on dress code issues


By Karen Billing

The Rancho Santa Fe School District is working on clarifying some issues regarding its dress code, or as it’s known in the district board policy document: “limitations on pupil appearance.”

The dress code changes will be on the board’s March agenda for approval.

In November last year, a group of parents came to the board to complain about the dress code, specifically on the issue of skinny jeans and yoga pants. Per the family guide, those clothing items weren’t allowed unless worn under a long top, but parents said it is hard to find looser-fitting pants that their children could (or would) wear.

As a result, the school district board directed Superintendent Lindy Delaney to look into making changes to the dress code to bring the board policy in line with the family guide. A rough draft of the changes was brought to the school board at its Jan. 14 meeting.

There aren’t many significant changes to the dress code, only minor tweaks and clarifications.

Board vice president Todd Frank questioned whether the tweaks would satisfy the people who say they are having difficulty finding clothing to meet the code.

Delaney said that she did listen to the parents’ complaints but their options at this point are to stay with what they have, go to uniforms or ban the items completely.

“I’m not recommending to do uniforms in school, I don’t think it’s practical,” Delaney said. “I definitely know they are looking for me to ease up on the item about yoga pants, but I’m not looking to do that.”

The dress code policy is meant to uphold a certain standard and to keep students dressing appropriately for educational activities, according to the district.

Some clarifications to the policy added what is already expressed in the family guide, such as a line that pajamas and sleepwear are prohibited unless permission is given by the principal on special dress days, and that spaghetti strap tops need to have straps wider than two inches.

In the policy language, tight-fitting pants “made of light-weight stretchy materials such as leggings, tights, jeggings and yoga pants” are not allowed unless covered by a dress or shirt that is longer than a pupil’s closed fist when the arm is held straight down.

As Delaney said, she wishes to stay firm on this issue.

“The alternative is to say they can’t wear any, but many girls wear this clothing and do a good job following that guideline,” Delaney said.

As some local schools have opted to ban yoga pants altogether, board trustee Marti Ritto said she feels the policy is pretty reasonable.

Small additions were made to the policy on topics of makeup and nails. The policy has always been that makeup should not be brought to school, but now it states that students should refrain from wearing excessive makeup at school.

A new item for the board policy that was already in the family guide also prohibits fake fingernails as they can “inhibit a student’s ability to perform functions related to school.”

An item about shirts and blouses having to be tucked in at all times was also removed.

“The policy is now more specific and I think meets a test of reasonableness,” said the district’s attorney Richard Currier.

The policy notes that students will not be suspended for being in violation of the dress code; the school will try other things first so there is a protection for students and parents, Currier said.

Board member Tyler Seltzer said the dress code violation situation is sometimes exacerbated by the enforcement and questioned how students are notified —“that process can be more upsetting than the policy,” he said.

Delaney said the students are told they are out of code and asked if they have something they can put on instead or to call home to bring alternative clothing. She said six times out of 10, their friends have something they can borrow and almost all times when parents are called to the school they say to their child, “I told you not to wear that.”