Dress code controversy leads to school suspensions - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Dress code controversy leads to school suspensions

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Students were suspended over dress code controversy in Waterbury (WFSB) Students were suspended over dress code controversy in Waterbury (WFSB)

In just one day last week, more than 150 students at Wilby High School were suspended for violating its dress code.

The school district says there's no doubt the kids were in violation, but it said the administration at the school didn't follow its own protocol when it comes to handing out punishments.

That's why the suspensions are being wiped off their records.  

Jack Stack was one of the students who got suspended.

"Every period, twice a period, they'd call a list of 20 something names and they'd all get suspended,” Stack said.

As part of the dress code, students at Wilby are supposed to wear a three-button shirt.

"Nowadays, its either a solid color and just khaki pants or black pants,” said student Paris Irizarry.

Hooded sweatshirts, hats, and sandals are also off limits.

Administrators at Wilby let the roughly 1,200 students know there would be a dress code check in advance.

"They're cracking down, the principal even said so herself that she would be performing a dress code sweep,” Irizarry said.

Nearly 13 percent of the student body was still in violation.

"I feel it wasn't necessary, it was kind of too much, suspending a whole bunch of kids, just to prove a point,” said student Brianna Ingrassia.

According to Waterbury’s central office, that was the problem.

"Students need to dress appropriately. It’s important to the learning process,” said Bob Brenker, Waterbury school district chief operating officer.

He said when they heard about the 156 suspensions, they decided to take them off each student's record, because it didn't follow the district's discipline protocol, meaning a warning for a first offense, a detention for a second offense and so on.

"Progressive discipline for employees, its similar for students. For one infraction, it’s this, 2, 3, and 4, not an automatic suspension for everybody in regard to their record,” Brenker said.

As for Stack, he and other students say before the increased attention, he says the dress code was loose, but he understands why it’s being enforced.

"I was surprised, but I just sort of took it, because the rules were the rules,” Stack said.

The district said the dress code checks will continue, and students said announcements are made in school.

On Monday, the very next school day after that big sweep, 35 students were suspended.

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