By ANGELA GREGORY
Students caught testing uniform rules with low-slung and oversized shorts or trousers are being told to pull their belts in.
Secondary schools are tightening up on students who wear the oversized uniform bottoms to conform with the baggy look in street fashions.
One of the most popular styles is shorts or trousers worn below the waist to expose brightly coloured boxer shorts.
The "low riders" are generally frowned on by school staff, although at Avondale College the students have proved the butt of a few staff-room jokes.
Says acting principal Warren Peat: "There has been some amusement among staff that the laws of gravity don't cause the shorts to fall down."
Mr Peat said students appeared to put up with the discomfort to preserve their "cool appearance," but as they had to keep their shirts tucked in, the school was at least spared the sight of their underwear.
Nevertheless, school policy was that if students had to keep their socks pulled up, then that applied to shorts as well, he said.
Kamo High School in Whangarei was less jocular about the slip in uniform standards.
Principal Richard Abel has repeatedly reminded parents the uniform has to be worn appropriately.
"In particular, boys with pants which are several sizes too large, and who wear them so low on their hips the crutch is below the knees, are not indicating an acceptance of the school standards."
Mr Abel said his concerns went back several years, but the school was winning the battle.
Another Whangarei school, Tikipunga High, has also kept a close eye on the problem. Deputy principal Ulric Drake said what was "too baggy" was a judgment call and could differ among teachers.
"But some look about 10 sizes too big ... You can see their boxers, and I don't know how the pants stay up."
Mr Ulric said the school accepted that parents at times bought oversized uniforms to save money, but common sense should prevail.
Hamilton Boys High School principal Susan Hassall said the problem had fallen away once the boys started getting detentions for the fashion blunders. "They didn't want to seem to show their legs; their shorts were right down and their socks way up."
However, at Northland College in Kaikohe, principal Jim Peters said that he quite liked the baggy look.
"We've had a bit of an issue with the school tracksuits too big and bulky, but it's a personal style and for growing girls it puts them at ease."