Local News

A year after lawsuit, Johnston schools OK facial piercings

Posted September 13, 2011

— The Johnston County school board updated the student dress code Tuesday to allow students to wear studs and rings in their noses, lips and eyebrows.

The move comes a year after Ariana Iacono was suspended from Clayton High School for violating the dress code because she insisted on keeping a stud in her nose while at school. Iacono said the stud was an essential part of her faith in the Church of Body Modification.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the school district on Iacono's behalf, and a federal judge ordered that she be allowed to attend school wearing her nose stud. The district settled the lawsuit in June, allowing Iacono to keep her stud and implementing accommodations for students with similar religious beliefs.

Superintendent Ed Croom said the dress code changes weren't related to the lawsuit.

Other changes to the dress code – the first in eight years – allow colorfully dyed hair, prohibit tank tops and shirts and blouses that are strapless or have spaghetti straps and clarify that shorts and skirts must be no more than 4 inches above the knee.

"My message to (students) is come to school to learn," Croom said.

Johnston County Schools Superintendent Ed Croom Dress code changes to bring dyed hair, pierced lips to Johnston schools

Students said they like the changes.

"Who thinks you're really going to be looking at someone's lip ring when you're doing math?" said Joy Guha, a junior at Clayton High.

Croom said a principal can still ask a student to remove any piercing found to be distracting or dangerous.

"We see this as a broader attempt for principals to be able to regulate things that may be hanging from an ear or around the neck," Croom said. "You may walk in and have a piece of facial jewelry that's in your nose or in your eye, and in that situation, the principal may feel that's unsafe."

The policy change has already garnered international praise. Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, called the nose-piercing ban "unfair to female to students of Indian descent" who often express their religious or cultural identity by wearing nose rings.

District officials also will go much easier on dress code violators. Instead of a 10-day suspension for a first offense, students will now have a chance to change clothes.


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  • taylor81 Sep 15, 2011

    Additionally, the idea that Johnston county is populated by a group of neat, well put-together, and properly dressed adults is a distortion of reality. In the many times I have visited Johnston county, I found that many of the "adults" there were sloppily dressed and grossly overweight (a fact supported by the NC Dept. of Health's study citing the obesity rate in Johnston as between 62% and 66%). The fact that these adults would pass judgement on a young lady who wants to wear a basic nose stud is unfathomably hypocritical. I would much rather my student model themselves after a girl who knows her Constitutional rights (with or without a piercing) than a "Johnston County professional", sweating into a too-tight, ketchup-stained dress shirt with a sloppily-tied camouflage necktie. (Not making that last part up... saw it on my last trip to Smithfield. I wouldn't be a bit suprised if that guy was one of the "let's see her walk into an interview with me wearing a nose ring" posters.)

  • taylor81 Sep 15, 2011

    I've spoken with a parent who believed their child's failures in school are due to the "distracting hair" of the kid next to theirs. No? Well, then it must be the child across from them with too many earrings that kept them from succeeding. Or maybe the classroom is too cold. Or too hot. Or too small. Or too big. This continued ad infinitum. Unfortunately, if parents believe that hair color or piercings on other students make it impossible for their student to learn, they are simply rationalizing away the real reasons their kid doesn't live up to expectations: the parent is failing to do their part at home. It's exponentially easier to blame other factors than to lay down the law at home, perhaps taking away computer, video game, or phone privileges, or, heaven forbid, even reading with/studying with your student (though, your child might become upset with you, which is unacceptable to many parents). "The kid beside mine has red hair, so they failed their test." What a joke.

  • Umustbejoking Sep 15, 2011

    Let them do what ever they want......it's great there will be less competition for the professionals that are in the job market, life long job at a convenience store or McDonalds anyone? If the job of the school system is to prepare our children for life they have FAILED.

    Also BOOOO to the Parents....why teach your child "honey, if you don't like the rules, break them and find away to get your way......Children already have enough feeling of entitlement. If you don't think so just wait until they are responsible for taking care of you.....unfortunately it will be to late then.....

    Church of Body Modification.......that's ridiculous!!!!

  • familyfour Sep 14, 2011


    I agree, and disagree.

    I, too, teach my children to uphold a nice, clean, proper image, HOWEVER....in all my years, I have come across the most properly dressed, and the worst of the worst.

    All I can say is NEVER EVER judge a book by its cover.

    Some of the WORST I have ever dealt with came suited in Sunday's best and had all the bells and whistles to boot.....while the girl with the orange hair and bad denim was honest, nice, and considerate....

    I'd MUCH rather have Orange hair truth on my team than a fancy shmancy liar~

    Individuality is not our enemy.....judgement IS.

  • familyfour Sep 14, 2011

    District officials also will go much easier on dress code violators. Instead of a 10-day suspension for a first offense, students will now have a chance to change clothes.


    SNAP. I guess now they are following the lead of the judicial system. Lets make rules, and then give you a break if you break them.

    Nice. That'll learn em.

  • 1KidMom Sep 14, 2011

    I guess image doesn't mean squat anymore!!! We teach our children (well some of us)that first impressions are lasting and a clean, neat appearance is important. Yes freedom to be who you want is important but really it's school. Why heck don't stop there go ahead and let the teachers wear their hair orange and have their nose rings, tongue studs, etc. Tell me which one you want teaching your child. You can't even a tattoo exposed if you work for a bank, so yes people look at you and form a image of what they want waiting on them or serving them, we are foolish to think that we don't.

  • NCSUwife2011 Sep 14, 2011

    I don't typically comment but I can't stand it anymore. I'm from Johnston County, born and raised. I attended public school there my entire pre-college life, and I think it's a travesty that both JoCo and Wake County schools are moving this direction of allowing students to make the rules. The purpose of school is to earn your education so that you may some day be a contributing member of society. Do you people really want these kids running our country as we get older? Remember...they're going to be in charge of what happens to this country. Currently it's going down the drain but they're going to be in charge of helping that along as long as we allow them to act in such this way. Why do students need to wear certain items to school?! I'm 24 years old and I think it's ridiculous that we're allowing children to argue with administrators and school authority for these reasons. Our parents need to step in and teach their children to respect their elders and also to focus on their educati

  • fayncmike Sep 14, 2011

    ""Could you please define, "normal dress code?" And tell us just who it's normal for." fayncmike

    Nope. 99% of the people on here already know. You're just going to have to figure it out for yourself. Hint...maybe you can glean it from the content of the article.

    Exactly! considering the plethora of divergent opinions expressed here I would say that the word normal, in this instance defies definition. normal for one may well be extremely abnormal for for another.

  • hunter38 Sep 14, 2011

    @dragonflyz: But you stated that you "appreciate the acceptance of individuality." What you may consider violate...another may consider okay. Thats the purpose of "individuality" its a broad word. So a rebel flag worn by a white student in school would be okay with you yes or no??...minus the bullseye on MLK

  • hampster382 Sep 14, 2011

    This hair dye thing really got me last year. My 14 year old wanted to put red streaks in her hair at the end of school last year (3 days before the end of school), so we did. To much of my suprise, she ended up getting in-school suspension until the end of school unless we covered it up...tell me how your going to oover up red streaks??? That was total Bull! Called the Johnston Co. Board of Education only for them to tell me it was an ''abnormal hair color''. Sorry, didn't realize that red streaks would cause such a learning distraction...must be something in the dye...Grow Up JoCo!