Sumter, SC (WLTX) - Monday night, parents upset over the enforcement of the dress code policy at Furman Middle School had their say before the school board.
News19 first told you Friday about several parents that were upset about what they said was an unusually strict enforcement of the school's dress code. Read the original story here.
"Last Thursday, my mom called me and said she had picked her up from school and that she looked miserable," Kimberly Austin told the board about the girl she is taking care of.
Austin says the girl in her custody is adjusting to a new life at Furman Middle. Before this school year, she was homeless.
"She was happy to see that she was going to be not picked on anymore, because she'd have a uniform," says Austin. But as the girl approached Austin's mother's car last week, she says, "She had these black bags on her feet... As she walked, she could hear them ruffling together. And kids were laughing at her and picking at her."
Austin says the school never called her about the shoes that they said violated the dress code policy: black, white or brown shoes only.
Other parents, though, say they were notified. Says one mom, "Today, I get a call, my son can't wear this shirt because this little piece of burgandy under the collar." Even if those notifications were for items they say were approved at the beginning of the year. "I said, 'My son had Nike shoes last year that had gray on them and it wasn't a problem. Can he wear them this year?' I was told if it wasn't a problem last year, it won't be a problem this year. Then on Friday, he came home with black bags on his shoes," she says.
But Cynthia Copeland has been a guidance counselor at Furman for three years, and she says the dress code, including the black shoe covers used when it's not followed, is nothing new. "We have a new principal. She's enforcing the policy and that's what, in my opinion has everyone upset," Copeland says, "The parents that I've contacted, they are more than willing to do what needs to be done."
The dress code was not officially on the school board's agenda and, per policy, they don't address public input during the meeting. District officials say that the superintendent will respond to each parent who spoke's concern in writing within 48 hours.