On April 21, officials at Wilby High School in Waterbury, Connecticut, suspended 156 students in one day for violating the school district’s dress-code policy, and now some are claiming the school’s policies are culturally insensitive.
WTNH-TV reported in April the students were suspended by officials for wearing clothing such as hoodies and hats, which violate the school district’s dress code. According to the Associated Press, the dress code requires boys at the school to wear shirts colored black or green only, and pants must be worn at the waist with a belt. Girls can wear dresses, skirts, pants and shorts, but they must be colored navy blue, gray or khaki. Hoodies are not allowed.
Many of the students suspended had never been warned previously about their clothes.
Wilby High School is primarily composed of African-American and Hispanic students. AP reports 84 percent of the students are Hispanic or black but 83 percent of the teachers are white, which has led some to suggest the school needs “more cultural sensitivity,” another way of saying the school's policies need to be “less racist.”
"The NAACP has been fighting tirelessly to get more cultural sensitivity in Waterbury and all throughout the state," said Scot Esdaile, president of the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP. "For them to do this at the end of the school year is totally absurd."
A member of the Connecticut school district’s Board of Education told WTNH the school didn’t follow its own policies when it suspended many of the 156 students. According to the district’s own rules governing the issuance of suspensions, students should only be suspended after a fourth offense. The first offense should result in a written warning. The second offense should result in detention.
“We didn’t follow our own policy,” Bob Brenker, chief operating officer for the Waterbury Board of Education told WTNH. “As adults, we should follow our own policy, too. So, now, we’ve taught students that if they do something wrong, it’s okay. They’ll be disciplined for it. But, what happens to the adults—the people who do the suspensions? We should know better.”