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Parents are outraged after charter school turns away students for minor dress code violations

Kerry Justich
Yahoo Lifestyle


A charter school in New Jersey is under fire for turning away students on the first day of school for uniform violations.

As high school students arrived at Marion P. Thomas Charter School in Newark on Aug. 27, they weren’t expecting to be rejected at the door. However, according to a couple of viral Facebook videos posted by local youth basketball coach Ma’at Mys, that’s exactly what happened to nearly “half of the school” when students showed up with as much as a white stripe on their sneakers, when they were told to wear all-black footwear.

Mys started recording on his phone when he saw a flood of students walking around the Newark neighborhood with friends when they were supposed to be in school. To his surprise, they were all coming from the same school, where they were turned away without their parents’ knowledge.

Marion P. Thomas students outside the school, after getting turned away. (Photo: Facebook/Ma’at Mys)

Marion P Thomas locked their doors to students who don’t have belts or all black shoes,” he wrote. “This is how charter schools help high risk children. If you have a child at the school, reach out to them.”

The videos sparked a major controversy with the school, as well as a large debate among parents — whether or not they had children at Marion P. Thomas. And although some people are adamant about the parents’ responsibility to make sure that their children are abiding by the dress code, others pointed out that not all of the families have the funds to provide proper footwear. Nevertheless, the majority are in agreement that the situation wasn’t handled in the proper way.

“What happened to sending kids to the auditorium for the day if they violate dress code or if they are late, etc.,” one commenter questioned. “Why put them in danger in one of the most dangerous cities in Jersey by sending them outside during school hours?”

Marion P. Thomas sent a letter to parents — and also published it to its website — the following day to address the controversy:

Since its inception, Marion P. Thomas Charter School has had a uniform policy. The policy is intended to help our school promote a more effective learning environment, foster school unity and bridge socioeconomic differences between children. Wearing a uniform teaches students appropriate dress and decorum in school, helps to improve student conduct and discipline and prepares them for their future workplace.

Our high school team wanted to ensure our students complied with this policy, for all of the reasons aforementioned. Their best intentions led to some students being asked to return home. We have communicated with our families who were impacted by this decision. While we realize school policies are important, we recognize that our students’ well-being is our utmost importance. Therefore, we have implemented a process that will not compromise the safety of our high school students.

Additionally, the school opened a Uniform, Footwear, and Accessories Fundraiser to ensure that families in need are provided the proper accessories and footwear required for the uniform. Whether offering clothes, shoes, or a monetary donation, people are asked to support the effort to “stock an emergency closet for our students” who might unintentionally be in violation of the dress code. 

In the meantime, students are being provided black tape to cover up any white details on their shoes.

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Girl’s dress-code protest shirt lands her in juvenile detention for 6 days
High school principal under fire for suggesting that dress codes prevent sexual abuse: ‘Why should we allow students to dress provocatively?’
Girl gets removed from Catholic middle school for hairstyle: ‘This decision is going to affect black children more than white children’

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