WASHINGTON - A Charles County mother is unhappy with how her daughter’s school dealt with a violation of their dress code after the girl was forced to use duct tape to cover her ripped jeans.
Nicole Williams said she first heard about the problem from her daughter, who sent her a text telling her the story and complaining that the duct tape was itching and burning her skin.
Williams’ daughter is a seventh grade student and attends Benjamin Stoddert Middle School in Waldorf. According to the school’s dress code, students can't wear shorts that are above the knee or wear jeans with holes in them that are above the knee.
“They told me that my jeans were inappropriate for school and then one of the teachers told me that I had to go get tape,” the student said. “So I went to go get the tape and the teacher tried to put it on, and then she said make it tighter because she didn’t want it falling off or anything.”
“The idea that they came up with and believe it was a good idea to put duct tape on a child when they can clearly see bare skin – I believe they should have called me first and gave her a chance to change her clothes,” said Williams.
Marvin Jones, the interim principal at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, said in a statement:
“The expectation at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School is that students do not come to school in pants with holes above the knee. If a student does not meet that expectation, we first ask students if they have a way to cover the holes, and if they do, they go back to class. If they do not, we call the parent and provide the student duct tape to self-apply to the holes above the knee.
"If a parent indicates someone will bring a change of clothes, the student is allowed to go to the in-school retention room to wait without having to apply the tape. In this case, the mother asked if the student could take the tape off and wait in the in-school retention room until she could bring a change of clothing, and that was allowed.
"Our practice is to communicate with the parent before a student covers the holes with tape; however, that protocol was not followed today, and I apologize for that. The amount of tape applied by the student was excessive and unfortunately, she had a reaction to it. The parent met face-to-face with an administrator at the school, as well as a director at the system's administrative offices today. I have attempted to contact the parent as well but without success. My first concern is for the child and I want to make sure that she is okay. I will review with staff proper procedures for handling dress code violations moving forward."