Duncanville High School in Texas was the scene of a mass uprising Wednesday after 170 students were sent home for violating the dress code and anadditional unknown number were given in-school suspensions. As reported by KDFW Fox 4, administrators even called upon local police to help control the situation.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Duncanville students were found in violation of the dress code in the morning and administrators instructed those violators to gather in the cafeteria before being sent home. Some of the items listed in the Duncanville Independent School District’s dress code policy include a requirement that students wear belts, shirts free of logos and designs, and it prohibits denim.
Student Jose Marquez was suspended on Wednesday and said, “The teacher just calls me and tells me to lift my shirt up and I didn’t have a belt on. So [no] belt and ID and got kicked out.” Edward Ramirez, a junior with a 3.5 GPA said he had never been written up before the dress code sweep. He told KDFW, “The staff told me that my shirt was out of dress code despite the fact that it is a school spirit shirt.” The dress code does include an exception to the policy allowing principals to OK school spirit shirts like the one Ramirez wore, on stipulated days. Some students said that faculty allowed the spirit shirts on most days.
As news of the student suspensions spread, protests began and a food fight reportedly started in the cafeteria around 11:30 a.m. and migrated to the school hallways. Brittany Hall, a Duncanville High School senior told KDFW, “The class just got fed up and things were being thrown like trash cans, tables, and food. We actually had to hide underneath a table just to not get hit by everything that was flying.” The KDFW helicopter camera captured a “heavy police presence” outside the school around 1 p.m. Things had apparently gotten out of control and administrators decided to call in the authorities to regain order, but no arrests were reported.
Duncanville High School Principal Andre Smith emphasized to WFAA ABC 8, "We enforce dress code every day…And not just dress code. Every policy and procedure we enforce every day." However, many of the students disagree with that statement saying that there are very few times that the dress code is enforced and the timing of this sweep couldn’t have been worse. The crackdown occurred right before the school’s scheduled final exams, which caused many students to miss critical reviews in classes. Smith, a second year principal at the school, said, “No day is a good day to send students home. We want students in the classroom…We want to teach them that they must meet the expectations not only here in school, but outside of school as well.”
Senior Arturo Moreno responded, “I get that. They’re enforcing the rules and they’re supposed to do that. But for them to not do that all year? It’s the last two weeks of school and now they want to enforce it?” Parent Karen Williams, whose son was sent home for wearing a school band shirt, said, “I’m pissed off. It was crazy.” Still, other parents were in agreement with enforcing the school policy. “It’s important to maintain order and maintain uniformity in the school system,” said Jacqueline Saldana, a parent who is a first grade teacher in the school district and has a son at Duncanville High.
Despite what some students were calling a ‘near-riot,’ Principal Andre Smith told WFAA, “We didn’t lose control, our students chose, some of our good kids chose to make bad choices." Smith says that they do a dress code compliance sweep three to four times a year, but he has never seen the reaction that followed this recent crackdown. Duncanville High School’s dress code enforcement also made the news in 2003 when more than 700 students were suspended over the course of two months for violating the school policy.
KXAS NBC 5 reports that some students vowed to continue to violate the dress code in protest. On Thursday when students returned to class, administrators said some were turned away for violating the dress code, but otherwise the day was “normal and orderly.”