LEWISTON — The School Committee on Monday voted 6-2 to table action on a revised dress code policy to get more input from staff and the community.

The revised policy for student dress removes language banning hats and hoods and puts “the responsibility for the dress and appearance of students” on them and their parents.

Most committee members supported that, but many said the wording was too vague and open to interpretation by teachers and administrators.

“We need clearer parameters to spell out that ‘this is allowed, and this is not,’” Committee Chairwoman Megan Parks said.

The dress code conversation was brought to the committee June 7 by Superintendent Jake Langlais. A group of students at Lewiston Middle School had asked for the change. They had researched the issue and surveyed their peers.

Teacher Allston Parkinson told the committee at that meeting that the results of the students’ survey, with about 45% responding, showed that 85% felt more comfortable being in school if allowed to wear head coverings.

Feeling comfortable in school is a prerequisite to learning, teacher Michelle Bourgoin told the committee, quoting brain research.

She said styling hair can take a lot of time for students of color, and if they are rushed and their hair isn’t styled, wearing a hat or hood helps them feel more comfortable, not embarrassed.

Committee member Ron Potvin on Monday made the motion to table action. He called for more vetting of students, teachers and administrators.

“I’m concerned that the entire school system has not weighed in on this,” he said.

The policy would apply to all grades.

“I’ve heard a lot of choppiness,” Potvin said. “Some administrators don’t care for this and some do. Some teachers are not sure; some parents are, some aren’t.”

He said a student asked him, “‘Do you realize how intimidating that is when students dress like that in school?’”

Committee member Kiernan Majerus-Collins and City Council representative Alicia Rea voted against the motion to table.

Before the vote to table, Majerus-Collins had made a motion to approve the first reading and move forward so students would have an answer by the beginning of the school year.

“This issue has been in the public eye for a month,” he said. “Folks have had the opportunity to weigh in. If people were passionate about this, they would have let us know.”

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