What actions equal after-school detention? Dress Code Violations? Really?

My daughter came home yesterday with tears in her eyes. And, when I see tears in the eyes of my sweet child, I'm going to go looking for who hurt her. 

Apparently, she got a third after-school detention for dress-code violations. But, let me back up and give you some background. We love that our charter school has a uniform code. The uniform consists of a logo-emblazoned golf shirt, that changes color according to your grade, and khaki pants or skirts. They aren't required to buy specific khakis but they can't wear anything with pockets on the legs that can hide things. I get that. I love it.

BUT, (and there's always a but) the shirts must be tucked in at all times. During winter, they are allowed to wear undershirts but that creates a further problem of being able to tuck in both shirts. Apparently (after a lovely chat with the school this morning), there's an element (like 30%) that truly look sloppy when their shirts are untucked. Shirts are too long or whatever.

The first time Laura told me she got an after-school detention it was after three warnings for shirts untucked or partially untucked. We talked about following the "rules of the land" and she promised to try harder. The second time, we took away priviledges at home. This was serious. She claimed to be trying harder and that she didn't even know her shirt was untucked.

You have to know, she's not a rebellious kid. My daughter does well in school, she doesn't talk back to teachers and overall, she doesn't interrupt the educational process, that I know of.

When I was growing up, you got after-school detentions for acting out in class and talking back to teachers and not doing your homework. After-school detentions were, in my mind, intended to get the parent's attention. When the schedule is interrupted and the parent has to make a special trip to school, there really should be a serious conversation about what's going on.

So, I ask, do dress code violations for partial non-compliance equal after-school detentions, especially when the child is doing well otherwise? Is there no grace here? Has the focus shifted from the educational process to policing dress codes to the letter of the law?

Yesterday, I got an email that Laura was on the list for this week's after-school detention (her third). She got no warnings leading up to it and she cried in the director's office. Why? Because she had really been trying. She didn't want to be in trouble with them or us. This was truly demoralizing and apparently, it was only for part of her shirt sticking out, which comes untucked in the back when she sits down. The day is filled with standing and sitting. Shirts come partially untucked.

I wrote an angry email last night to the school, responding to the one I received. Of course, my husband got mad. He wants to see rules enforced. I respect that so I wrote another email apologizing for overreacting. But, then I called today. I needed to find out what we can do as parents or to see what they had to say.

The dean of students talked to me, listened, and agreed it might be harsh. I asked about lunch detentions. I asked about the severity of the punishment. He was very nice and said they would think about it. I told him that I take after-school detentions very seriously.

I would think a lunch detention would make a significant impact on kids who want to hang out with their friends. After-school detentions get the parent's involved.

I mean, if you want to get the parent's attention about something, is this it? I would also understand if students were outright rude about it and purposely untucked their shirts. But, to have a shirt slip out during the course of the day and then get pinged for it, really? Really? Where's the focus here?

Ultimately, how do you, as a parent, balance supporting the authority in place and when do you speak up and cry "foul"?

I had a strict principal in high school. He sent kids home for no socks and no belts and skirts too short. He became a pastor and then told his congregation that he hated what enforcing those codes did to him as a person. Out to get offenders. Even as a student, I appreciated the dedication to people looking decent but sometimes it did seem to get out of hand.

Where are the limits? Where's the cut-off?

And, how would you deal with it and still attempt to show the light and love of Christ when all you feel are daggers coming out of your eyes and steam blowing out your eardrums?

Time to go spend some time in prayer. I could use some peace right now.

Comments

  1. wow, I would be livid. I’ve worked in public schools and Parochial schools….and when it came to dress code, the worst punishment for not being dressed properly was a lunch detention or a reduced recess.

    i do think it’s a bit over the top to put a child who’s obviously trying, who’e unaware of her state of dress, in detention? sheesh…the teachers can take 5 seconds and say, “honey, your shirt came untucked. take a moment and fix it please.”

    how hard is that??? oh more and more homeschooling appeals to me. these

    when I was teaching, after school detention was for children who didn’t do their homework or were rude or something like that. uniform? really? if a child even showed up in an outfit that wasn’t appropriate, we had hundreds of extras available for the child to wear or we called the parents, but not detention.

    in that situation, when a child shows up to school not properly dressed our principal knew it wasn’t the child’s fault (if the child was young, like a 3rd grader), it was the parents. why punish the child for not dressing their child correctly?

    oh girl…..sigh….schools shouldn’t worry so much about a shirt as grades. remind the girl to tuck in her shirt and move on. right?

    how to get past the anger?? it’s human nature to be angry at something so unjust. we just gotta realize that what is unjust to us may not be to someone else. they must sincerely believe that having an untucked shirt is a huge sign of rebellion. we can gently nudge their opinions …I think you did great recommending a lunch detention instead.

    • Ricardo says:

      I agree with all this because in my school we have the same thing for a shirt being untucked. I think jill has the right idea of things.

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