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Houston High School Enforces Parent Dress Code, Bans Pajamas and Low-cut Tops: 'You Are Your Child's First Teacher'

A Houston high school has warned parents they will no longer be allowed to enter its premises if their attire does not meet the standards of a new dress code policy.

The principal of James Madison High School said in a letter to the families of students at the school that it is no longer acceptable to wear hair rollers, pajamas, revealing tops or leggings, shower caps, bonnets and clothing that is intentionally torn to show lots of skin.

The notice—penned earlier this month and later pinned on the school's website homepage—was discovered this week by local news outlets, sparking debate on social media.

“Please know that if you break our school rules/policies or do not follow one of these rules, you will not be permitted inside the school until you return appropriately dressed for the school setting,” read the letter, which was signed by principal Carlotta Outley Brown.

“Parents, we do value you as a partner in your child's education,” the notice continued. “You are your child's first teacher. However, please know that we have to have standards, most of all we must have high standards. We are preparing your child for a prosperous future.”

The letter was dated April 9. While not referenced in the text, KPRC-TV reported the day prior that a mother had been refused entry to the school to enroll her daughter because of her own clothing. The mother was told her short dress and headscarf were against the dress code.

According to the woman, Joselyn Lewis, she had demanded to see a copy of the dress code, but it was not provided to her. School officials then called the police department, Lewis claimed.

Principal Brown did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter, which contained ten bullet points of attire that would be considered to be in violation of the rules.

“To prepare our children and let them know daily, the appropriate attire they are supposed to wear when entering a building, going somewhere, applying for a job, or visiting someone outside of the home setting, I am going to enforce these guidelines on a daily basis at Madison High School. We are preparing our children for the future and it begins here,” Brown wrote.

Points for the parents included:

  • Very low-cut tops or revealing tops that you can see your busts (breasts) will not be permitted in the building or on the premises.
  • Dresses that are up to your behind will not be permitted on the premises or in the building or any attire that is totally unacceptable for the school setting.
  • Leggings that are showing your bottom and where your body is not covered from the front or the back (rear) will not be permitted in the building and on the premises.
  • Pajamas of any kind will not be permitted in the building along with house shoes or any other attire that could possibly be pajamas, underwear, or home setting wear.

The school's letter added: “We value you but we must ask you to value and follow the rules of the school environment. This guideline will apply to any or all events that happen inside/outside of Madison's premises. Thanks for understanding and being a partner.”

On social media, debate raged about the effectiveness of the policy.

“Schools have every right to impose a dress code... but you’ll get my leggings when you pry them from my cold, dead hands,” one commenter joked on Facebook under a popular post by KHOU 11 yesterday that was shared thousands of times. 

Another person on Facebook added: “Have some respect for yourself and your child and dress right in public. If you go to a school or any place of business you should be dressed right.”

One local parent, named Dora Breeding, told KHOU 11 News: “We are taxpaying adults and we shouldn’t be told what to do or what not to wear. We are not the students we are the parents.”

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