cover principal dress code cover
Source: houston ISD

Principal Sets School Dress Code — For the Parents

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Apr. 24 2019, Updated 10:39 a.m. ET

A high school in Houston, Texas is making waves for instituting a dress code not just for its students, but for their parents as well.

Most children spend more time in school with their friends and teachers each day than they do with their parents, but that doesn't mean a great deal of learning doesn't go on at home.

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Kids learn how to act by emulating the behavior of their elders, which might be why principal Carlotta Outley Brown decided the parents of the students atJames Madison High School needed a dress code.

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In my family, "dressing up" was never a primary concern, but my mom always ensured we had clean and neat clothes and looked presentable.

I'm sure if my parents were OK with wearing snuggies in a Wal-Mart, I probably would have grown up thinking that was OK too.

Principal Brown wants to ensure parents set a good example for all students entering James Madison High School. Therefore, the memo she sent out lists all of the "prohibited" clothing items that are not permitted on school property, whether you're a student or a visiting parent. Banned articles included pajamas, house shoes (slip-on Uggs or flip flops), exposed underwear, hair rollers, bonnets, shower caps, or satin caps/du-rags.

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The dress code also banned leggings, excessively ripped or torn jeans, Daisy Dukes (aka short shorts), saggy pants, short dresses, revealing tops, and super baggy and long shirts.

While a number of parents agreed with certain aspects of the dress code, many took offense to the part about hair rollers and bonnets.

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Some even went so far as to call the language "discriminatory," because it unfairly targeted different races, genders, and classes.

Tomiko Miller, a parent of a JMHS student told the Houston Chronicle, "I’m almost insulted. I really think it was discriminatory, the language that was used. It was demeaning. And I’m African American — and if it’s misty outside and I have a hair bonnet on, I don’t see how that’s anyone’s business." 

housewife driving a car picture id
Source: istock
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Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, said the language and codes pertaining to women's hair were "belittling...classist...[and] offensive." He went on to talk about head wraps in particular:

"I’m sorry — this principal may have plenty of money and time to go to the hairdresser weekly and have her stuff done. Who are you to judge others who may not have the same opportunities that you do? Having a wrap on your head is not offensive. It should not be controversial."

When The Houston Chronicle reached out to school administrators, they didn't respond to questions about the parental dress code policy, nor did principal Outley Brown comment on the dress code complaints.

Apparently, the memo was issued just a day after a parent was turned away from the high school after she showed up in "a t-shirt dress and headscarf" to enroll her daughter.

The school allegedly called police to remove her from the campus for her attire, and she in turn demanded to see a school dress code that prohibits her from being on school grounds in the outfit she wore.

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school dress code
Source: kprc 2 screengrab

In the past, Ellen DeGeneres praised Outley Brown on her show for being an outstanding educator who "works seven days a week dedicating her life to students who are mostly poor or homeless." She was previously principal of Peck Elementary School for 14 years, when she received praise from Ellen and a $100,000 grant from Target to improve the Peck Elementary campus.

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Peck Elementary also has a stellar academic record, earning several national distinctions. In 2008, the school even received recognition as a National Blue Ribbon school. Funnily enough, the profile detailing Outley Brown's work at Peck noted her firm stance on the way parents dressed in school: "Early in Principal Brown’s tenure, some parents showed up at school in inappropriately informal dress. She took these parents in hand and explained that they may not appear at school so dressed and firmly turned them away, as she did any parents using inappropriate language on school grounds."

national blue ribbon society
Source: wikimedia commons

What do you think of Outley Brown's dress code for parents? Should she be able to make demands of parents? Or did she cross the line?

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