Students at a Staten Island high school are protesting a new strict dress code imposed by the school principal.
In the last two weeks, 200 students, 90% of them girls, have received detention for rebelling against a stricter dress code introduced this year. Many others have received verbal warnings. According to the student handbook, first-time offenders will receive a one-hour detention.
The students wore tank tops and shorts to attend classes at their un-airconditioned school and were quickly detained by the fashion police and brought to the auditorium, while their parents were called to bring “appropriate” clothing for their kids. If parents could not be reached, students were given clothing with the school logo to wear for the day.
“I was, like, flipping out, cursing mad, and I said, like, ‘You know I’m not gonna wear this!’ ” Tottenville High School junior Ashley Silberberg said of her gym clothes. “I took it off as soon as I walked out.”
The new dress code, referred to as Dress for Success, was implemented by new school principal Joseph Scarmato, who has 15 staff members looking for exposed skin on students as they walk in the door in the morning. Scarmato said he is hoping to teach students the proper way to dress to succeed in life.
According to the code, students may not wear tank tops, shorts, mini skirts, leggings, skinny jeans, halter tops, sweat pants, or hoodies. The policy also applies to headbands, hats and sunglasses, metal wallets, metal spike jewelry and more. Any clothing must fall below at “relaxed hand level.”
Officials for the Department of Education said the principal discussed the new policy with parents last week, asking parents to sign off on student handbooks prior to the start of the school year.
District 31 Superintendent Aimee Horowitz said the policy was put in place because the clothing in question “creates a distraction, is dangerous or interferes with the learning and teaching process.”
However, some parents are outraged, stating the policy is backfiring.
“These students are rebelling to the point of basically wearing undergarments,” said father of three Vincent Candelieri, 59, who is considering a class-action lawsuit against the school. “Scarmato is a total control freak.”
Others remain in support. One mother said she felt like she was at a strip club while attending a football game because of what she believed to be too-revealing clothes being worn by many female students in attendance.
Meanwhile, some students are planning to protest the new rules by wearing whatever they want to school this week.
“If their parents let them out wearing it, there’s no reason the school should be telling them not to wear it,” said student Jonathan Gliaos. “If they care that much then get us uniforms.”