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Ashley Kewish, Deseret News
Paula Colman, the mother of a Churchill Junior High student, tried to defuse a dress code controversy by using humor in her newsletter.
Leggings are not pants. Tights are not pants unless you're an elf. —Paula Colman

MOUNT OLYMPUS — The mother of a junior high school student recently tried to use humor to defuse a dress code controversy at school.

Paula Colman, whose daughter attends Churchill Junior High, wasn't sure if leggings — a trendy fashion item often seen gracing the pages of magazines— were appropriate for students to wear as pants.

"It seemed very unclear where the line was going to be drawn," Colman said.

She contacted the school regarding the issue and decided to address the controversy — with a reference to a holiday comedy movie — in the Charger Chatter, a weekly newsletter sent to parents of Churchill that Colman started.

When the leggings trend became popular in the school, "I immediately thought of Will Ferrell in ‘Elf' and his costume," she said.

"Leggings are not pants. Tights are not pants unless you're an elf," Colman wrote in the newsletter.

"We had to lighten the tone," Colman said. "The school didn't want to bring a hammer down on anybody. They just wanted to make it clear what was appropriate and what would make everybody comfortable."

Olivia Colman, Paula's daughter, is proud of her mom's work.

"I think it's pretty funny. I thought the elf reference was creative," she said.

District spokesman Ben Horsley said dress code is not dictated at a district level, but each school sets the guidelines. He said he appreciated Colman's humorous approach, as well as her raising awareness of the issue.

"It's good that we have parents on the ground and administrators looking at different trends and fashions," Horsley added. "I think it's entirely appropriate to compare some of our students to Buddy the Elf. ... That's really how they look. It's pretty ridiculous."

He said leggings aren't banned at the school and that students can still wear them, but must wear an appropriate top that fully covers them.