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Parents Upset With OSD Dress Code Enforcement

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


In May 2020, the Oxford School District revised its dress code in hopes of developing a dress code that “is equitable and nondiscriminatory” and simplified the minimum requirements to five key points.

However, by the second day of school this week, social media lit up with parents who were livid after learning their child was “coded” for violating the dress code.

Some parents complained that some school officials’ decisions seemed to be arbitrary. Others claimed that there seemed to be no consistency in what was considered a violation – other than it seemed to be primarily girls who received violations.

Superintendent Bradley Roberson emailed all parents in the District Wednesday morning with a link to the district’s dress code, which states, “Students should be able to dress for school in a manner that expresses their individuality as long as it does not interfere with the learning process and health and safety of themselves or other students; and Students should be treated equitably. Dress code should not create disparities or reinforce or increase marginalization of any individual or group.”

The minimum dress requirements are:

  • Clothing must cover from the top of the shoulder and extend down to mid-thigh.
  • Rips or tears in clothing should be lower than mid-thigh.
  • See-through or mesh garments must not be worn without clothing underneath that meets the minimum dress code requirements.
  • Tight-fitting clothing must be covered with a garment that meets the minimum dress code requirements.
  • Shoes must be worn at all times and should be safe for the school environment.

Several parents who sent emails to Roberson, principals and the Oxford School Board of Trustees said it wasn’t the actual dress code that was the issue, but how it was being enforced.

Tracy Cliburn’s sixth-grade daughter was given a dress code violation on Tuesday and Wednesday, despite her shorts and skirt on both days being below her fingertips.

Tracy Cliburn’s sixth-grade daughter was given a dress code violation for this outfit Wednesday. Photo provided

Several of the individual schools also had outdated dress codes posted on their websites until Wednesday afternoon when they were updated after parents complained.

Several parents reported their children were “coded” for wearing athletic shorts or leggings, which are not singled out in the policy as being in violation.

An email sent out Tuesday to OHS parents said students cannot wear “hats, hoodies, any headwear, short shirts with midriffs exposed, short shorts and tennis skirts.”

The notice did not mention tank tops or specific skirt or short lengths. The district’s dress code does not mention any particular type of clothing not being allowed unless it has written words or pictures that promote violence, drug use, vulgarity, hate speech, et cetera.

Roberson said “hoodies” are allowed to be worn to school, as are coats with hoods in the winter, but that the hood cannot be kept up while the student is in school.

“For safety reasons, staff members need to be able to identify students quickly, which is why headgear is not permitted,” Roberson told Hotty Toddy News on Wednesday.

Roberson said while some students were called to the office for dress code violations, not all were sent home or made to change.

“Teachers may have asked the administration for clarification but the students were not sent home if they were in compliance with the dress code requirements,” he said.

Several parents said when they went to the schools to bring their children new clothes, they saw dozens of girls in a room while others were sent to In-School Suspension rooms if their parents could not get to the school.

Another parent said a girl wearing “distressed jeans” had duct tape put over the ripped areas and sent back to class. Parents posted photos of their children who were deemed “in violation” on various social media pages showing various lengths and types of skirts and shorts.

A petition was created on Change.org by “OHS Class of 2024” that had garnered more than 700 signatures by Wednesday afternoon against the OSD dress code.

“Every student should have a right to wear shorts, skirts, hoodies, etc. We are not asking to wear the tiniest crop tops or the shortest shorts, but we just want to be comfortable in the hot summer months,” stated the petition.

In response to a false social media post circulating in June about the district adopting a much more strict dress code policy, the school district sent an email to parents saying there had been no changes to the dress code or enforcement policies.

Roberson said he is compiling the emails and comments from parents and will be sharing them with the administration and the Board of Trustees.

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