The principal of Jones College Preparatory High School has finally addressed the controversial dress code decisions that have left some students angry since August.
Last month, Jones principal Joseph Powers told students he does not foresee the administration lifting the school’s restrictions on pant length, midriff coverage and how yoga pants must be worn on campus. Some student’s had requested that restrictions be lifted so that the fashionable pants could be worn at their discretion.
“We give our students a wide latitude as to what they can wear and how they can wear it and what expresses their personal style, but certain things are not appropriate in the school setting,” Powers said. “While some people may agree or disagree with that, that is our policy.”
Powers, who had been asked about the new dress code rules at the past two local school council (LSC) meetings, delivered his speech at the Nov. 12 meeting. His speech followed student representative Carol Pazos, a 17-year-old junior, who said she spoke to a student that created an online petition.
Currently, the petition has 182 signatures and addresses the latest restrictions.
“I never thought I would be sitting at a board meeting like this discussing yoga pants,” Powers said.
Pazos, who said the school’s dress code is not bad but the administration could improve their implementation of it, added the issue has calmed down slightly with time, but is still something the LSC should be aware of.
“The situation has dwindled down, but I just wanted to bring to the LSC the attention of the petition so they see the student point of view on it,” she said. “Some students are more or less so not concerned about it, and then others apparently want to start a petition and feel strongly about it.”
Powers responded by saying he does take this matter seriously and wanted to clear up the misinformation he saw in the petition. He said the dress code at Jones is very standard, and the new additions regarding yoga pants were to keep the code up-to-date with new-found fashion styles.
While the petition states that yoga pants have been banned at Jones, Powers assured that they are allowed, but must be worn with a long shirt or a skirt. He added that because the new rules are seemingly more directed towards female students, they have been criticized for being sexist and condoning a “rape culture,” but that was not the administrations intent.
“All we have tried to do in this process is to make sure students are dressed appropriately,” he said. “The distraction issue is a minor concern or consideration. That seemed to take the forefront in a lot of student conversation. That really was not a major issue. The major issue is what is appropriate student dress.”
Pazos mentioned the petition at the Oct. 14 meeting, but Powers said he did not believe it was an issue that needed to be discussed then.
“I think that’s something that’s worthwhile to discuss, it’s just that’s not the pressing concern for us at the start of the school year,” Powers said back in October.
Charlie Mills, a special education classroom assistant that has worked at Jones since 2001, said that from a faculty perspective he admires the students who were able to voice their concerns to administration in a polite, positive manner.
“I’ve seen schools even in CPS that have gone into a total tizzy over something like this,” Mills said. “I think the way the kids are doing it here is a structured, really organized way of doing it”