School fashion protest leads to arrests
The Columbian, WA -
In the past two weeks, four eighth-grade boys have been arrested and charged with misdemeanors for leading protests against the school’s dress code. About 20 more students have been suspended.
Parents of those students are wondering whether this tough-love approach has gone too far — the dress code, after all, was implemented to curb bad behavior.
Amy Proffer, whose son, Joey, was among those arrested, said she was upset that the principal allowed police to question her 14-year-old son without calling her.
“I was concerned that the officer was taking a statement from my child,” Proffer said. “They told me that they have a right to question him without a parent because he’s over the age of 12.”
The dress code, dubbed “Mac attire,” was implemented at the start of the school year after a parent vote of approval. Proffer voted against it.
Principal Rich Reeves referred reporter calls to Vancouver Public Schools spokeswoman Kris Sork, who said the district stands by Reeves’ decision to call the police.
“I don’t dare talk about the specific case,” Sork said, citing educational privacy laws. “It was investigated by Mike Stromme (director of secondary education), who found that it was all absolutely appropriate.”
The frustration over Mac attire took root the afternoon before the lunch protest, at a Fort Vancouver High School track meet.
According to student and police accounts, several eighth-graders were playing in the grass, turning somersaults and using crass language when an assistant principal from their school approached. She told them to knock it off.
The next morning, one of the boys received a letter saying he wouldn’t be allowed to partake in any more after-school functions through the end of the school year.
That boy, Sam Ruble, said he nearly started crying. He’s a wiry boy with long side bangs and a flair for the dramatic. Sam, 14, said that he was upset because his alternative rock band had been planning to perform after school next month.
The next day at lunch, the boys fumed. They were angry at administrators about their punishment, and that gave way to conversations about the dress code, which they said crimps their style.
By the end of the lunch period, a decision had been made: They would protest the dress code.
“What made us angry at first was barely a protestable issue,” Sam said. “But we realized that many people understand the dress code cause, and we decided that we were long overdue for a dress code protest.”
They wanted to show off their “randomness,” student Desirea Allen said later. They wanted to draw on their jeans and wear the colors of their choice. They acknowledge that they’ve been able to show off their personalities in spite of the dress code, which allows them to dye their hair any color and write on their shoes.
They believed they would be allowed to protest: Desirea, 13, had checked her student handbook, which states students may express themselves so long as it’s “not disruptive to other individuals or to the educational process.”
Their ranks grew to about 20 students.
Most involved call their style “emo” or “goth,” a look that tends toward black jeans and thick eyeliner.... read more
In our view: School's uniform test is worthwhie
The Columbian, WA -
For a learning environment, Mac Attire beats baggy-pants, the “emo” or “goth” look, exposed midriffs and visible underwear that some students prefer. ...