The Central Massachusetts school official who unsuccessfully proposed banning cleavage at a regional junior high school said today that he only made the suggestion to minimize classroom distractions.
“My personal experience in the classroom and supervising the classroom was that exposed cleavage was distracting to students in the classroom. As a result, I just thought I’d bring it up,” said school committee member Fran Simanski of the Tantasqua district, which serves students from Brimfield, Sturbridge, Wales, Holland and Brookfield. “I have zero interest in being any kind of moral compass.”
The Tantasqua School Committee yesterday shot down Simanski’s proposal to ban cleavage along with bare midriffs and exposed underwear, which are already forbidden in the Tantasqua Regional Junior High School handbook, said Principal Jennifer Lundwall.
Lundwall said she opposed the measure because she did not want to single out students, in this case girls, in the dress code. She said the 600 students at the school rarely wear cleavage-baring clothes. When they do, under a “strict” policy, the student is told to put a top over the revealing dress, change into something more appropriate or spend the day in school suspension, she said.
“We have a pretty lock-solid approach,” Lundwall said. “To think that putting language in a handbook would stop children from making bad wardrobe choices is not realistic.”
Simanski made the proposal while members were discussing a plan to add language to the school handbook to tighten restrictions on attire that references drugs and other troubling advertising. That proposal prevailed, but the cleavage measure was rejected in a 7-5 vote.
Simanski said he would only propose the cleavage ban again if his constituents request it, and complained that he’s being trashed online and portrayed as a “right-wing fanatic.”
“I’m a lifelong educator,” said Simanski, a retiree who worked for 39 years as a teacher and administrator in Massachusetts and Connecticut, “who is just interested in trying to eliminate distraction in the classroom.”