By John Schaffner

The Atlanta School Board unanimously voted Dec. 10 to change the student dress code to ban “baggy oversized clothing,” to include “sagging shorts and trousers.” Such sagging, underwear-baring pants are prohibited on all Atlanta public school campuses.

Board members decided to take up the issue after Atlanta City Council member C.T. Martin formed an indecency task force to investigate a possible law against showing underwear in public.

“Although schools have been enforcing the district dress code and, for the most part, students have been complying, we believe it is important to specifically prohibit this latest trend of sagging pants,” stated school board Chairwoman Kathleen Pattillo.

It remains the responsibility of the principals of the district’s 96 schools to determine when there is a violation and what to do about it.

School board member Brenda Muhammad brought up the issue after working with the task force started by Martin.

Martin created an uproar this past summer when he suggested expanding the city’s indecency ordinance to include publicly visible undergarments, such as boxer tops and bra straps.

All of that got the school board thinking about what it could do on its school campuses, which resulted in the Dec. 10 vote.

Meanwhile, a legislative task force will hear from residents during at a Jan. 18 public hearing as it continues deliberating the city indecency law amendment. The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, in Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Avenue, SW in downtown.

Under our current democratic system, Councilman Martin said, local communities and their governments are charged with determining and defining public indecency. It occurs when the people make a request to their elected officials and with the necessary legal due process, they deliberate to see if some regulation can be initiated or if current prohibitions should be eliminated.

Atlanta would join other cities in this debate including Dallas, Texas and more recently the city of Shreveport, Louisiana, which implemented a law banning the exposure of ones’ underwear in a public setting.

The legislative task force could present its recommendations to the Atlanta City Council as early as February.