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Houston high school implements strict dress code — for parents: ‘We must have high standards’

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Hard and fast new policy

Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images

A Houston high school has introduced a dress code for its students' parents — and the school is no-nonsense when it comes to enforcing the new rules.

What are the details?

James Madison High School's new parent dress code includes a ban on items such as leggings, hair caps or bonnets, pajamas, slippers, hair rollers, torn jeans, revealing tops, sagging bottoms of any kind (including pants, shorts, and jeans), men's undershirts, and short dresses and shorts.

James Madison High School Principal Carlotta Outley Brown made the announcement earlier in April in a letter to the parents.

A portion of Brown's letter also warned, "Please know that if you break our school rules/policies, you will not be permitted inside the school until you return appropriately dressed for the school setting."

"Please know we have to have standards," the letter added, "most of all, we must have high standards."

In addition to the letter, the school also posted the policy on the school's web page for parents to peruse.

Brown's letter also explained that the dress code applies to all functions — including sports events — that take place on school property.

Tomiko Miller, the mother of one student, told the Houston Chronicle that she's "almost insulted" by the new policy.

"I really think it was discriminatory, the language that was used," Miller explained. "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."

Zeph Capo, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, also told the outlet that the dress code is "classist," "dismissive," and "belittling."

"Who are you to judge others who may not have the same opportunities that you do?" Capo asked. "Having a wrap on your head is not offensive. It should not be controversial."

What else?

The Chronicle also reported that similar plans are in the works in other school districts across the U.S.

Two Tennessee legislators sponsored a bill that would require schools to have a parent dress code in place. State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D), one of the lawmakers responsible for the bill, said that it is imperative for parents to wear appropriate clothing to set an example for children.

"I've heard from people literally from New York to California to Washington state saying there is a need for this," Parkinson said.

Parkinson also spoke to the notion that some parents believe that the idea of a dress code targets people from certain demographics.

"I'm not speaking about affordable as much as priorities," he said. "What could be a higher priority than bringing your child to school? You wouldn't go to a date like that."

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