James Madison High School in Houston has riled up social media with news of a letter sent to parents that included a dress code. The hitch is that the rules are not directed at children, but for the parents entering the school, whether to pick up their children or attend meetings.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the rules were instituted by school principal Carlotta Outley Brown, who took over as Madison’s principal midway through the second semester this year, becoming the school’s fourth principal in five years.
Prior to James Madison, Outley Brown had been a principal at Peck Elementary School in Houston for 14 years. The school usually met state academic standards during her time as principal and occasionally earned recognition for achieving above-average academic results compared with campuses with similar student demographics.
Critics of the list point to a preponderance of items more often worn by black women from lower-income communities as evidence the list is sexist, racist and classist.
Outley Brown’s list bans satin caps, bonnets and shower caps, hair rollers, pajamas, house shoes, torn jeans, leggings, Daisy Duke shorts, low cut tops and short dresses. The list also says sagging pants, shorts or jeans will not be permitted and you can also forget trying to collect your child in undershirts.
Tomika Miller, whose child attends the school, views the list as problematic. She explained, “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.”
The letter explains that the parental dress code is designed to “prepare our children and let them know daily, the appropriate attire they are supposed to wear when entering a building, going somewhere, applying for a job, or visiting someone outside of home setting.”
If parents turn up in any of the banned items, the letter promises they will be turned away. The letter reads: “Please know if you break our school rules/policies, or do not follow one of these rules, you will not be permitted inside the school until your return appropriately dressed for the school setting.”
Check out the letter below.