Costume Controversy: Signal Mountain principal says some violate dress code
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN, TN. (WRCB) -- Three seventh graders and one of their parents claim that Signal Mountain Middle and High School administrators made Costume Day more trick than treat this Halloween.
Savannah Cherry's an Eskimo princess.
"Apparently, it was too short," says Savannah Cherry, of her Eskimo Princess dress. "But I had leggings on all day, so I don't really understand that."
"Miss (Assistant Principal Lisa) Huskey was giving me dirty looks all day about my leggings," says Grace Jennings, who dressed as the Cookie Monster from Sesame Street. "I mean they're loose."
Gray Klassen had to make her Pizza Roll ensemble work, with school uniform khakis rather than 'jeggings.'
"I was wearing shorts over 'em because I figured if they were too tight, they'd cover me," she says.
Savannah's mother, Dee Cherry, considers the reaction, ridiculous.
"I mean really, there's no part of their bodies that are exposed," Ms. Cherry says.
"We spent hours last night getting them ready, and I wouldn't have let any of them out of the house with anything showing."
"But to be called out in front of their friends? In the middle of the hallway, and be embarrassed?"
"They were saying it was supposed to be a fun day," Gray says.
Signal Mountain Middle and High School didn't allow students to dress up last Halloween, according to new Principal, Robin Copp.
"But Student Council asked if they could, and we said yes," Copp says. "But we also made clear, on the intercom, each of the three days before it happened, that their costumes had to comply with the Student Dress Code."
The Code bans students from wearing shirts that "show cleavage or undergarments."
"Slacks and shorts must be hemmed or cuffed, not rolled or not frayed," the Code reads.
"Shorts, skirts and skorts must be knee-length", and , in call cases, "the professional judgement of teachers and administrators will prevail."
The girls disagree.
"All they said was 'don't wear a mask'," Grace claims.
"And follow the high school dress code," Savannah adds.
"I guess they didn't want them to wear, uh..." Grace pauses.
"Daisy Dukes," Savannah chimes in.
"Daisy Dukes, there we go," Grace laughs.
"We're not Fashion Nazi's," Principal Copp says. "But they know what the dress code is, and they were expected to abide by it."
Copp believes some parents may have heard their children had been suspended, because the I.S.S. (In-School Suspension) coordinator also serves as quartermaster for the Uniform Closet. It's a collection of school uniforms and other acceptable clothing available to students whose attire violates the dress code.
"We may have had 15 to 20 students whose costumes were a problem," she says. "All they had to do was cover up. Nobody was suspended."
The Dress Code calls for 'administrator chosen cover-ups' for a student's first and second violations. A third offense sends the student to ISS "to call a parent for appropriate clothing. If none available, student will remain in ISS for the remainder of the day."
"I had to wear corduroys that didn't fit," Savannah says. "No belt. And I had to give up the shorts I had under my dress to get the corduroys."
"Those clothes have been in there for who-knows-how-long," Dee Cherry asks. "Who knows the last time they've been washed."
Grace Jennings insists that she and her friends weren't trying to flout any rules or 'push the limits.'
"They didn't say anything about my purple hair, but it was covered," she says. "I know it's bad, but I want to test it."
Savannah Cherry asks that administrators get into the Halloween spirit.
"I think they should just lighten up a little bit."