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Wilson schools defends dress-code policy

More than 200 middle-school students have received three-day suspensions for violating the school system's dress code.

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WILSON, N.C. — A Wilson County Schools spokesman on Friday defended the school system's policy that has resulted in 207 middle school students to be suspended for violating a dress code.

On Thursday, 166 students, all first-time offenders, were suspended for three days, mostly for wearing low-riding pants and having un-tucked shirts. Forty-seven were suspend Friday for dress-code violations.

Parents received prior notification about the policy in the form of three phone calls and messages, schools spokesman Bob Kendall said. Students were also reminded about it in class.

Still, some parents, like Jennifer Anthony, are upset that a three-day suspension is the punishment for a first-time violation of the policy.

"I don't care if they have a dress code. That is fine with me," she said. "It is just a matter of them suspending on the first offense."

Her son, Jacob, an eight-grader at Springfield Middle School, was suspended Thursday less than an hour into school.

"Evidently, he did not get (his shirt) tucked in fast enough, and the teacher said, 'You have to got the office. You are suspended,'" Anthony said. "I was fuming. I was beyond mad."

Now, he is concerned about his grades and work he will miss. Kendall said students will be allowed to make up missed work.

Kendall defended the policy's stricter enforcement, calling the dress code violations a learning distraction and a danger.

"You want to be able to see a student's waist and a student's pockets to make sure there is no contraband or a weapon," he said.

The stricter enforcement – previously, students received detention on the first two violations – has had proven results on the high-school level, Kendall said.

On Oct. 7, for example, 102 high school students were suspended for violating the dress code. The following day, 21 students were suspended.

A few days later, the number of violations peaked again at 31 but has continued to decline.

"The dress code problem in high school has essentially disappeared," Kendall said.


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