Fort Mill, SC (WBTV) - Parents in the Fort Mill School District turned out to the school board’s meeting to address recent concerns surrounding the district’s dress code policy Tuesday night.
More than 5,600 people have now signed a petition that tackles many of those concerns.
One of those people is the mom of an 8th grader at Banks Trail Middle School who helped launched this movement in hopes of seeing change. Mindy Neal says her daughter, Amaya, was sent to the front office three times in the first week of school.
“In no way have I ever, ever thought that she was violating dress code without stopping her and saying, ‘Hey you, you don’t look appropriate,’” said Neal.
That’s why when Neal got the call from her daughter that she was in the front office for violating dress code the first week of school, she was shocked.
“Her shirt didn’t meet the four-inch rule and didn’t cover her bottom the way they felt it should,” said Neal pointing to a picture. “But her leggings were not opaque in any manner-- so she was covered.”
Neal shared pictures of two of the outfits she says Amaya was wearing when she had to go to the office during the first week. Amaya says teachers caller her a distraction.
“My daughter is not a distraction, she’s there to get an education,” said Neal. “She is not a distraction to other students. The fact that she doesn’t have a shirt that’s covering her butt is ridiculous, because her butt is covered by the fabric that is on her pants. So, she has to have two layers of fabric on her bottom in order for us to deem it acceptable? I find that outrageous for girls.”
The Neals add they have several concerns including the fact the district policy seems to be different from the policy of each individual school.
“They would say, ‘Oh this is district policy only, and we can’t change it and can’t do anything about it,’ -like the yoga pants -- they would tell us that that that’s district policy but they’re definitely not district policy,” said Amaya.
In addition, the Neals say they believe the policy is unfairly tougher on girls than boys.
“I see guys that are in tank tops and shorts that are definitely not 4 inches above the knee,” Amaya added. “I’ve only seen one dress coded ever, and I’ve been in school for nine years.”
Ultimately, the Neals say while a dress code may seem like simple issue, it’s more complex and brings up issues like body image and self-confidence which is why they’re hoping the district will listen to their concerns
“This is about just talk to us,” said Mindy. “Please let us have a seat at the table. Please listen to our points of view and please listen to the students…we want our voices to be heard.”
The district says they are aware of the concerns, and they are “currently reviewing the policy to ensure it’s being applied consistently across all grade levels.” They add the policy is “in line with the majority of non-uniform dress code policies across the state. And is designed to be gender neutral and is applied equally to males and females.”
The district adds it is welcoming feedback and will make adjustments as warranted. Below is the district’s full statement on the issue.
In the meantime, if you’d like to read the district’s dress code policy- you’ll find it here. While the policy does include some specifics, the policy also states, “The administration reserves the right to determine what is appropriate for school.”
Tuesday’s board meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Fort Mill School District Office at 2233 Deerfield Drive in Fort Mill. While the policy itself is not on the agenda, concerned parents plan to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting.