Texas high school sends 170 students home for violating the dress code
By Charlene Sakoda
May 15, 2014 4:45 PM
Duncanville High School in Texas was the scene of a mass uprising Wednesday after 170 students were sent home for violating the dress code and anadditional unknown number were given in-school suspensions. As reported by KDFW Fox 4, administrators even called upon local police to help control the situation.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Duncanville students were found in violation of the dress code in the morning and administrators instructed those violators to gather in the cafeteria before being sent home. Some of the items listed in the Duncanville Independent School District’s dress code policy include a requirement that students wear belts, shirts free of logos and designs, and it prohibits denim.
Student Jose Marquez was suspended on Wednesday and said, “The teacher just calls me and tells me to lift my shirt up and I didn’t have a belt on. So [no] belt and ID and got kicked out.” Edward Ramirez, a junior with a 3.5 GPA said he had never been written up before the dress code sweep. He told KDFW, “The staff told me that my shirt was out of dress code despite the fact that it is a school spirit shirt.” The dress code does include an exception to the policy allowing principals to OK school spirit shirts like the one Ramirez wore, on stipulated days. Some students said that faculty allowed the spirit shirts on most days.
As news of the student suspensions spread, protests began and a food fight reportedly started in the cafeteria around 11:30 a.m. and migrated to the school hallways. Brittany Hall, a Duncanville High School senior told KDFW, “The class just got fed up and things were being thrown like trash cans, tables, and food. We actually had to hide underneath a table just to not get hit by everything that was flying.” The KDFW helicopter camera captured a “heavy police presence” outside the school around 1 p.m. Things had apparently gotten out of control and administrators decided to call in the authorities to regain order, but no arrests were reported.
The article goes on to describe the administration’s intent to continue enforcing the dress code.
Eduhonesty: Many people don’t understand why schools have dress codes. Mostly those codes were created to manage possible gang problems. You can’t represent your gang colors if the school dress code does not allow those colors. For that matter, you can’t represent your gang colors if the code uses your colors. If everyone is wearing black and red, gang-affiliated or not, the gang message becomes lost. Dress codes also save money. A quick trip to Walmart or Target for black pants and red or white collared shirts accomplishes the year’s clothing purchases for school.
Kids fight dress codes pretty hard, though. Adolescents want to express their individuality. They try a small logo, an unusual shade of blue, a necklace that has not specifically been forbidden. They buy forbidden leggings that look like jeans to wear on Spirit Friday with their school shirt. They wear scarves or bright pink shoes. Teachers wrestle with the dilemmas posed by those pink shoes and tiny logos. Do I want to send the kid out for a dress-code violation? She’ll miss the math. If I don’t send her out, though, the logo will be bigger next time and someone else will turn up in forbidden pink shoes.
I hate dress codes. Dress codes result in disciplinary actions that take students out of the classroom. Dress codes suck up teacher time as teachers fill out the necessary disciplinary referrals and make related calls home. Dress codes result in students being too cold sometimes since hoodies are hardly ever allowed in the classroom (too easy to hide your face) and hoodies may be the only outerwear brought to school.
Dress codes also make kids feel poor. Students in urban and financially disadvantaged districts go to other schools for sporting events or they see those schools on museum field trips. They know that more prosperous areas don’t have a rigid dress code. If those wealthier schools have any code at all, it’s often something like “Girls cannot wear spaghetti straps or skirts/shorts that rise above the fingertips when their arms are by their sides. Boys must wear belts.”
I’d like to scrap my school’s dress code for a year or two to see what happens. If gang problems recur, we can go back to the dress code, but I suspect the threat of a strict dress code might be enough to stave off the threat of gang colors. These codes came into existence mostly as a result of gang activity some years ago. Colors for representing may be old-fashioned by now. I recognize the advantages of the dress code, especially for financially- strapped parents, but that food riot speaks volumes about how adolescents view these codes. When we consider the chaos in that cafeteria in Texas, I think we can reasonably ask if Duncanville High School would be worse off next year without a dress code. A great deal of administrative time is lost in my school and presumably in Duncanville High by administrators managing clothing code violations.