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Shades of Gray in Sumter County School Dress Code

7:21 PM, Oct 5, 2012   |    comments
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Sumter, SC (WLTX) - Some parents in Sumter are seeing red after they say their children were penalized for wearing grey, a color that doesn't fall in the dress code at Furman Middle School.

It was the punishment that many were upset with - giving them black plastic covers for their shoes.

"It stops bullying, it stops harassment from other kids," says mom Laura Gainey. She understands the need for a dress code for her kids at school, saying "Their shoes were stated that they had to be black, white or brown or a combination of the three colors."

Where she isn't falling into line is the strictness of it, and the way that it was enforced with her son yesterday. "According to what I've read about the definition of bullying," she says, "These administrators are doing it to the kids now."

Both her son and 8th grader Christian Compton were sent to the office yesterday for gray on their shoes. Of his teacher, Christian says, "She pointed to my shoes and said, the gray swoosh - I believe that's called a swoosh, anyway - was gray and it was unacceptable." 

Compton was told this in 3rd period - after he says he'd already been checked and approved in homeroom. Gainey's son called her to say he needed new shoes, so she headed up to the school. "When he came to me, he was walking with these black, looks like shower caps, on his feet," she says. 

The school district says they are black covers, similar to what a doctor would wear in the operating room. They also sent News19 a statement, saying: "The new principal was enforcing local school policies that were already in place but not followed prior to her arrival. The district has addressed the specific concerns with the principal and students will now receive referrals for dress code violations."

Says Christian's dad James Compton, "But if the policy's been there for a year and a half and you decide today to enforce it, that's a change." A change Compton said he and the other parents were never notified of, until it was too late.

Both Compton and Gainey want the district to take another look at the dress code and amend it to make it easier for parents, especially those who have to buy clothes for multiple kids in the school.

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