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Carlotta Outley Brown, who took over as principal at James Madison High School during the current school year has implemented a dress code for parents. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Principal Carlotta Outley Brown sent a letter to the students’ families and also posted on the school’s website informing them of the new dress code, which also forbids hair rollers, shower caps, bonnets and clothes that show too much skin. The principal said the policy is important to demonstrate to students the appropriate attire allowed in school.
“Please know that if you break our school rules/policies or do not follow one of these rules, you will not be permitted inside the school until you return appropriately dressed for the school setting,” Brown’s letter reads. “Parents, we do value you as a partner in your child’s education. You are your child’s first teacher. However, please know that we have to have standards, most of all we must have high standards. We are preparing your child for a prosperous future.”
The letter was dated April 9, which is apparently one day after a mother was forbidden to enter the school to enroll her daughter because of the short length of her dress and the headscarf she was wearing, according to KPRC-TV.
The mother, Joselyn Lewis, had asked to see a copy of the school’s dress code policy, but school officials reportedly didn’t oblige. Instead, they called the police department, Lewis told KPRC-TV.
Newsweek reported it reached out to the principal for comment but she didn’t immediately respond back.
Outley Brown took over the school halfway through its second semester when its old principal quit, not even lasting a year. She came from Houston’s Peck Elementary School, where she made national news in 2015 when the school got $100,000 from Target as part of its “Thanks a Billion” campaign during a live broadcast of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
As for the parents of students at James Madison, the clothes no longer allowed include:
The policy is not without its critics. Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, specifying how it targets women’s hair said the rule is “classist,” “belittling” and “dismissive.”
“I’m sorry — this principal may have plenty of money and time to go to the hairdresser weekly and have her stuff done,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “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.”
Some parents aren’t pleased either. One mother, Tomiko Miller told the Chronicle she’s offended by the policy.
“I really think it was discriminatory, the language that was used. It was demeaning,” she said. “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.”