LEWISTON — Public school students agree on at least one thing: the dress code needs to change. 

Amanda Alberta, a junior at Lewiston High School, presented a new dress code policy to the School Committee on Monday evening. It included a thorough reworking of the policy to be more inclusive, easier to understand and easier to follow. 

“After the national confrontation on dress codes last year,” Alberta said, “a group of students got together in May (2014)” to address what they could do to change their own dress code policy.

With the current policy, “there are issues with enforcement and wording of policy,” she said. “We want to create an inclusive and gender-neutral policy.”

The presentation especially addressed problems concerning gender bias in dress code. The entire framework of the policy was reworded in the proposal in the hope that it would be applicable to all students.

“We wanted to change the relationship between students and staff. We want everyone to feel safe and respected,” Alberta added.

There is also specific language in the proposal about not allowing anything discriminatory. 

According to Alberta, the process began at the beginning of the school year, once administrators were on board. An elective from each Devils Advocate group was chosen, and each group voted either yea or nay on the proposed policy changes. 

The current dress code is very subjective, and an anonymous school survey showed that 28 percent of LHS students feel it is not applicable to the majority, Alberta said.

The goal of a new policy is to have it standardized districtwide and easily enforceable. 

When asked about complication of enforcement, Alberta said staff are continually pulling students away to reprimand their attire. “It should not be taking away from class time,” she said.

Sophie Mitchell, the senior student representative, agreed with the proposed changes and said, “this policy change is very supported by students.”

Now what?

The School Committee will have to take a look at the proposal in depth, and suggest any changes it sees as necessary. These will be added to the final proposal, which will be presented when all parties are satisfied. At that point, it would be put to a vote by the committee. 

If the new dress code policy passes, the next step would be to decide when to implement it. The committee doesn’t have a specific idea of when that will be, because it depends on how long it takes to have a final proposal, and how difficult it will be to have all staff on the same page about enforcement. 

“I want to make sure there’s adequate time to refine it,” Chairman James Handy said. “When there’s a product we feel is complete, that is when we will move forward.”

Each member of the committee applauded Alberta and her group on their efforts and time spent on the proposal and presentation.

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