Parents picket over saggy jeans

December 2, 2009 5:36:55 PM PST
Saggy jeans and untucked shirts have some parents walking the picket line in Wilson County.

That after principals suspended an unusual number of students for school dress code violations - a punishment some parents say does more harm than good.

John Coldwell's 13-year-old son was tossed out of class for three days for coming to school with his shirt hanging out.

"It's too extreme," Coldwell told ABC11 Eyewitness News.

Coldwell joined a group of parents who decided to picket the Wilson County School Headquarters following the suspension of 160 students.

"I don't see a badly dressed student here. I know people all over the world who dress like this," Coldwell offered.

While students call it fashion, school leaders say spaghetti straps and low-hanging jeans creates problems.

"It was an instructional obstruction and having one's waistline covered is a safety issue," said Bob Kendall with Wilson County Schools. "Because, someone could hide a weapon. The rules have been in place for years, but not heavily enforced until recently."

Punishment for first-time offenders is up to each school, and Wilson officials say the crackdown shouldn't have come as a surprise. Parents were notified in advance.

"It's been taught here for seven years. It's nothing new. It hasn't changed. What is new is that compliance didn't reach satisfactory standards," said Kendall.

But some parents are now asking the system to rethink its policy.

"These kids need to be in school getting an education. There are other ways of dealing with this other than sending them home," said Coldwell.

Despite the parent protest, school leaders say they've actually received few overall complaints. For now, the policy remains.

And the school system tells us suspensions have dropped off significantly since the big crackdown. It's down from an average of 30 middle schoolers a day who were violating the policy two weeks ago.

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