St. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A mother of a Pacetti Bay Middle School student spoke out Friday against the way the St. Johns County School District enforces its dress code, which she says targets girls and humiliates them in front of their classmates.
Michele Faris told News4Jax on Friday that her 13-year-old daughter's classmates are being embarrassed by administrators and it has to stop.
"If a girl is walking around and you can’t tell her shorts are not fingertip length and you have to physically go there and measure them just to check, then they're probably long enough to be nondisruptive and not a distraction to the learning process," she said. "Why do you have to actually measure just to make sure? (It) doesn’t make any sense."
Faris said her biggest complaint with the enforcement of the dress code is that administrators are conducting checks during classroom learning time.
"It happened during class time. My daughter said it was during her science class and (they) come over the loudspeaker (to) tell them, 'This is a random dress code check,'" Faris said. "And everyone has to stand up. The teachers have to go around the room on what I’m calling a witch hunt for dress code violations."
The father of a 14-year-old middle school student said he thinks the dress code is harsh on girls.
"My daughter ... she has to wear long jeans and long-sleeve shirts because she’s afraid she’s going to get dress-coded in the middle of class," the father, named Dustin, told News4Jax. "From what I understand, they call time at some point during class and everybody has to stand up. The teacher goes through and takes a look at everybody’s outfit to make sure they fit within the guidelines, which kind of stinks, especially if you’re a girl and you're pointed out front of everybody."
The school district confirmed two complaints about the dress code enforcement this year but insisted schools never check for violations during classroom time.
"Just the act of being dress-coded and standing up in front of everybody and being humiliated -- when the intent is never to embarrass children -- absolutely not," said Christina Langston, spokeswoman for the school district. "We try to handle dress code violations in the most appropriate way possible."
Faris started an online petition against dress code enforcement.
As of 5:30 p.m. Friday, the petition on Change.org had more than 1,450 signatures.
Faris hopes that if enough people sign it, school officials will change the way they enforce the dress code.
So far, no dress code enforcement issues with boys have been reported.