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School uniform policy = school bullying?
October 5, 2012 at 9:31 AM

 This showed up in my FB newsfeed this morning. My daughter attends this school so it caught my attention. My daughter told me about the black trash bags on shoes last week. We were picking out shoes and she wanted a pair that I knew she wouldn't be able to wear but she wouldn't give it up. I told her if she wore them and they called me to come get her because of it I would let her sit in the office all day and not pick her up. That's when she told me about the black trash bags. What are your thoughts on this situation below?

To Whom It May Concern:

My son attends Furman Middle School in Sumter SC. I would like to start by telling you about my son. He is an 8th grader by the name of Christian Compton. He is very involved I school and his education. He has been a straight A student and in the TAG program since elementary school. He is involved in Student Government and is currently running for class president. He is also the editor of the school newspaper and will be undergoing IQ testing at Francis Marion University in January based on his previous test scores and teachers recommendations. He has never been in any type of trouble or been subject to any type of discipline while attending school. He was also holding a steady perfect attendance until today.

Furman Middle School, as many know, has a uniform dress code policy that requires khaki pants, navy blue or white polo’s, brown or black belt, and white, black, or brown shoes. My wife and I have been supportive of this uniform policy due to the studies that prove a reduction in bullying and distractions from the educational process. I do however have a serious issue on how the uniform policy is being implemented and enforced. We purchased shoes, which to our understanding, met both the uniform policy and the requirements for gym class. These specific shoes are black Nike’s with a gray Nike “swoosh” trademark symbol on the side of the shoe. These shoes have been sufficient and past daily uniform inspections for the entire school year last year and thus far this year. As a matter of fact, they passed a uniform inspection first thing this morning. Later in Christian’s third period class, following an email to all teachers, he was sent to the office and told he would have to wear black bags on his feet for the remainder of the day. He immediately called us and we went straight to the school. When we arrived at the school we met with the assistant principle and he confirmed that unless we were able to provide our son with shoes that met the policies requirements he would not be able to attend class unless he wore bags on his feet. We also learned that a child that forgets their belt or wear a belt that is deemed non-compliant is forced to wear a brown string tied around their waist for the remainder of the day to attend class. I explained that solid black or white shoes that meet those requirements aren’t exactly easy to find in stores, our family is on a very fixed budget, and to be able to purchase these shoes and find them in his size in a store would be difficult on such short notice. I asked that if it took several weeks to find and afford such shoes would my son not be permitted to attend classes. The assistant principle advised me that he could only attend class with bags on his feet until the proper shoes were provided for him.

My issues are these:

1. The shoes have been adequate for two school years until today.

2. I can’t understand how a grey stripe on his shoe is more distracting to the educational process than bags on his feet.

3. By definition, humiliation and demoralization by being forced to wear bags on their feet or a string tied around their waist is bullying, not by other students but by the school administration. A simple note sent home, phone call, or parent conference would be sufficient I’m sure.

4. The school’s administration is creating their own obstacles in providing an education to our children by putting them in a position to be ridiculed and bullied, demoralizing, and humiliating them.

5. How can I, as a parent, support a uniform policy that is handled in a manner that humiliates children because their parents can’t afford to buy them a new pair of shoes on a few hours’ notice?

6. Other parents have now come forward with similar issues that include: colors on the soles of the shoes, a colored stripe on the inside of the polo shirt’s collar, too many buttons on the polo shirt, etc…. These uniform demands are unrealistic and absurd. I challenge any of you to visit the stores in Sumter and find affordable clothing that does not have some type of markings, logos, or trademark colors on them.

I could literally go on for hours with the reason’s I feel this is wrong. I have attempted to contact the local school board and district office where I received the run around, transfers to other people who have run me around, and numerous voicemails that have gone unanswered. The uniform policy has another reason for its existence: To prepare students for the “real world”. Well, in the real world we stand up for our rights and for what we believe in. I will be teaching my son that lesson from this!

I have already made initial contacts with local and state news media. My son has been denied a public education because he refuses to have his rights violated and becoming a subject of humiliation in front of his classmates. It is unfair and demoralizing for any middle school student to suffer such consequences. If a reduction from distraction in the public education system is the goal of the policy, how is creating a larger distraction with humiliation a sensible solution? If any child were to come from school and tell their parents that another child had humiliated them by forcing them to wear bags on their feet or a string around their waist that child would be considered a bully and probably be disciplined by any good school administrator. The way this policy is being handled, the lack of consistent enforcement, and the constant different interpretations of the policy by those that enforce it alone show that it was not well thought out and implemented properly.

It is my full intention to ensure my children get the quality education that is rightfully theirs. With that being said, we will also fight to protect them from a school system that demoralizes them by whatever means necessary.



  • Mommy_of_Riley
    October 5, 2012 at 9:45 AM
    We have the same dress code here. Except emblems are allowed as long as they are smaller than a quarter.

    I think black trash bags would be dangerous... Wouldn't the kid trip while walking? Or what if someone else stepped on the bag and he twisted his ankle? I see bags on shoes as an accident waiting to happen.
  • Lizardannie1966
    October 5, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    I remember sticky dress code requirements when my younger two kids were going to the same school many years ago.

    On one occasion, they denied my daughter (she was 6, mind you, at the time) the "right" to wear a specific hoodie one day because according to that teacher, she was in violation of the dress code. My daughter came home to tell me that she was cold during lunch recess due to not being able to wear that hoodie.

    The hoodie had been fine until then and was the correct color without any decoration or logos. I had even asked the teacher if this would be OK when it first started getting cool enough to wear a hoodie here. She had said it was fine.

    Apparently they had literally changed the rules overnight and without informing any parents.

    I took them to task, threatening local and state media coverage along with taking this particular school to task with the district office. I was apparently not the only parent up in arms over this and they finally retracted and put out notices that the new rule would be put in force the second semester.

    Sometimes you DO have to stand up for what is wrong.

    But below, I hope these parents also teach their son that in that "real" adult world, an employer determines the rules and even a dress standard, their son will have to comply or lose a job possibly.

    IOW, they're teaching that fight the good fight but know that the opposition can fight back and often will win and because they haven't broken any rules.

    Quoting jridgill:

     The uniform policy has another reason for its existence: To prepare students for the “real world”. Well, in the real world we stand up for our rights and for what we believe in. I will be teaching my son that lesson from this!

  • lga1965
    by lga1965
    October 5, 2012 at 9:49 AM

     Yeah, I used to live in Sumter, before we had school age kids,thank goodness. I am on this father's side.

  • Lyzmom
    by Lyzmom
    October 5, 2012 at 9:55 AM
    I get really tired of educators and school administrators abusing their authority. How awful for these kids. I think it IS bullying, and if it were my child, I would be fighting it all the way.
    Maybe they should review their uniform policy. I'll bet it's vague, like most are, this color pants, this color shoes. If they want to be that nitpicky, it should be clearly stated in the policy. Better yet, they should just provide the damn uniforms themselves.
    That school is way out of line. Notifying the parents is sufficient. Allow them time to meet the outrageous demands, and don't punish the kids. It's being handled completely wrong IMO, and I hope the parents stand up for the kids.
  • Sonny.G
    by Sonny.G
    October 5, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    my sixth grade son was also sent to class with bags on his shoes before i got there to get him his shoes were black but the hole the laces come thru were silver he has been whereing then since school started now they call on 10/4/12 to tell me he needs diffrent shoes or he will have bags put on his feet .Furman middle school seems to worry more about my childs shoes than his education . somthing got to be done about this i got him a pair off black nike shoes now but they costed 80 buck now if you add the old shoes to that that is about 130 buck in shoes fore my 11 yo boy 


  • paganbaby
    October 5, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    If that were my child, I'd just take a damn sharpie to his shoes and call it a day.

  • JMmama
    by JMmama
    October 5, 2012 at 7:05 PM
    There is a baby at that school in some serious need of bath water.

    I have no problem with school uniforms. My kids' schools have them and they are specific. My older two have to wear khaki or navy blue bottoms and green polos with the school emblem. The shirts you have to buy from the only uniform place in town. It's a pain but at least I know they are right.

    Sounds to me like the school needs a great deal of perspective.

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