As hundreds of local parents join a petition for a change to school dress codes, the Fort Mill School District sent out a message defending the policy.

Thursday’s afternoon email to parents says the district has heard concerns circulating on social media and is reviewing policies to make sure they are “applied consistently across all grade levels.”

From the statement: “With students transitioning from one school level to the next and our rapid growth rate, we understand some students may be adjusting to a different dress code policy than they previously adhered to. Our district policy was last modified in 2017 and is in line with the majority of non-uniform dress code policies across our state. The policy is also designed to be gender neutral and is applied equally to males and females. If you would like to review the policy and accompanying administrative rule please visit our district policy website …”

The email comes as the number of people signing a Change.org petition has climbed to 4,100 people by Thursday evening, but not all of those are from Fort Mill. The petition is asking the district to rewrite the dress code, calling the policies “unrealistic, arbitrarily enforced and unfair” to females.

   One of those parents is Mindy Neal, who said her daughter was “dress-coded” on the second day of class at Banks Trail Middle School because her shirt was not long enough.

   “They made her wear a PE shirt around school for the rest of the day, a PE shirt that wasn’t necessarily longer than the shirt she had on,” Mrs. Neal said.

   The next day, she says her daughter’s pants were “too tight.” Her father had to come provide different pants because she was told she was a distraction to the rest of the students, according to Mrs. Neal.

Mindy Neal sent this photo of her daughter’s new outfit, which she is wearing out of fear of being “dress-coded” again.

   The principal told her father that he would have to speak to the school board if he disagreed because the staff was simply enforcing district policy.

   Since then, the daughter has been afraid to wear anything comfortable. She recently wore black leggings and a jean jacket, buttoning up the jacket.

   “She was worried about her midriff showing,” Mrs. Neal said. “It was in the high 90s that day.”

   Mrs. Neal said she joined a group of concerned parents to start the petition. They posted it to Change.org in order to survey the support.

  “I thought we would get like 1,500 people. I didn’t expect the overwhelming support that we have now,” Mrs. Neal said. “But it is a hot topic. I thought that I was alone in my impassioned plea, but I have been very overwhelmed in the support that this has received. … Last year, there was a petition, and a student who reached out to the school district, and that was met with resistance.”

On Thursday, the district said they had not yet received any specific concerns that were raised with the district administration. But the social media talk was enough for them to act and send out the below links for parents to review the policy.

“As the policy states, if a student or parent has a concern regarding the dress code or its implementation, they should contact their principal to share the concern,” the statement says.  “We welcome all feedback from our community and will continue to make adjustments as warranted.”

LINKS

Policy JICA Student Dress/Uniforms https://boardpolicyonline.com/?b=fort_mill&s=257155

JICA-R Student Dress/Uniforms https://boardpolicyonline.com/?b=fort_mill&s=257156

Complete Policy Website https://boardpolicyonline.com/?b=fort_mill#