Some students and parents are expressing frustration, especially through social media, with how DeKalb County High School is enforcing a long-standing dress code policy.
One such parent is Sara Fultz, who said her daughter, Nicole was pulled out of class this week because of her hair color, even though she has had the same hair color for the last few years without it being an issue at school.
In an email to WJLE Thursday, Fultz wrote “I had to leave work in Cookeville to go to DeKalb County High School after receiving a phone call from my daughter saying that the principal had told her that her hair color was 'unnatural'. When I got to the school and asked to speak to the principal, we went to his office and had a brief conversation, with my daughter present, regarding her hair. During this conversation the principal told me that she could not come back to school until her hair color was changed. My daughter will be in school at DCHS tomorrow, with her new brown hair that cost me just under one hundred dollars. It's a sad thing when hair color or holes in the knees of jeans comes close to ruining a student's outlook on their education,” wrote Fultz.
“Due to confidentiality I cannot discuss any particular student. DeKalb County High School is following the dress code that has been in place for several years, with one addition, and we are asking students to follow the rules that are in the student handbook,” DCHS Principal Randy Jennings told WJLE.
The dress code policy was adopted by the Board of Education several years ago and has been updated over time. According to the policy “students are required to dress and groom in a clean, neat, and modest manner that will not distract or interfere with the operation of the school. When a student is attired in a manner, which is likely to cause disruption or interference with the operation of the school, the principal shall administer appropriate punishment, which may include suspension. The school principal will be the final judge on issues of dress based on school board policies".
Fultz said her daughter is a good student and insists that her hair color is not a distraction.
“My daughter is an A-B student, in honors classes, taking college courses in her junior year of high school. She doesn't goof off and she keeps to herself. She is not a distraction. Her hair is not a distraction to her studies or to other students. But she is suffering by having been kicked out of school until her hair color is changed. That is the distraction - being pulled from her studies, kicked out of her education by those meant to instill the values of that education - because of red hair,” wrote Fultz.
The following dress code policies, as posted on the DCHS website, are expected to be enforced:
1. Hair – No extreme, unusual, or unnatural hair coloring or tints. Hairstyles are to be moderate with no startling and/or extreme styles.
2. Hats, caps, knit caps, skullcaps, hoods, bandanas, sweat bands, scarves, picks, and combs are not to be worn during regular school hours. Accommodations will be made for documented religious or medical reasons. No tinted glasses/sunglasses unless doctor prescribed. No extreme or distracting contact lenses. Appropriate athletic wear may only be worn during athletics or similar activities (i.e.: PE, marching band practice, drama practice, etc.)
3. Jewelry – No extreme earrings such as golf tees, nails, safety pins, etc. No grills (teeth jewelry). Body piercing other than ears must be studs only. Students are not to wear excessive jewelry, chains (including wallet chains), dog collars, gothic or gang-related paraphernalia, spiked jewelry (necklace, bracelets, etc…) that would be distracting/disruptive or unsafe.
4. Make-up – All make-up must be of natural color and moderately applied. (Black, white or other make-up that suggests death, gang, cult, etc. is not allowed.)
5. Shirts, tops and blouses – All shirts must be size appropriate (with or without collar) and must meet the pants, skirts, shorts, etc. when seated (front and back). Sleeveless shirts and tops must be fitted around the arm/shoulder. No revealing necklines or cutout backs will be allowed. Tank tops should be 3” wide across the shoulders. No arm warmers (i.e. fish net) or gloves. No references to drugs, death, alcohol, violence, sexual themes, profanity, tobacco, gothic, gangs, racist overtures, ethnic groups, or suggestive/offensive sayings will be allowed. Students while in attendance at DCHS shall wear appropriate undergarments. Cheerleaders may wear uniforms on pep rally days with pants. During the pep rally and during games uniforms without pants are allowed.
6. Pants and slacks must be size appropriate with inseam length hemmed or with cuff at top of the shoe. (no sagging, no bagging, no extra wide-legged, no holes 5” above the knee, and no parts that drag the floor will be allowed.) Wind suits are allowed as long as they are not open down the side.
7. Shorts must be no shorter than 5 inches from the middle of the knee.
8. Dresses and skirts must be no shorter than 3 inches from the middle of the knee, or have appropriate length shorts worn under them.
9. No trench coats or western dusters.
10. Cleats are not to be worn in the building.
11. Pajamas are not to be worn at school.
12. Students who wear leggings must have a shirt or dress that reaches mid-thigh. Leggings are not to be worn as pants alone.
Special dress days may be designated by the principal to include, but not limited to, the following example: Homecoming Week, etc.
Students who do not comply with the school dress policy will be subject to the following level of consequences:
1. Warning and the student changes his/her clothes and parent will be contacted.
2. Student must change clothes; they receive 2 hours of after-school detention, and parent will be contacted.
3. Repeat offenders will be considered insubordinate and will be disciplined accordingly with 6 hours of after-school detention.
4. 10 hours of after-school detention.
5. 3 days suspension.