One US principal has sparked a national debate after announcing a dress code for parents who drop their kids off at school.
In a statement sent to parents on April 9, principal Carlotta Brown of James Madison High School, located in Texas, said the decision was aimed at letting children know what was – and what was not – appropriate attire in a professional environment.
“Parents, we do value you as a partner in your child's education. You are your child's first teacher. However, please know we have to have standards. Most of all, we must have high standards,” Brown wrote in the statement, circulated to parents.
The clothing items banned include pyjamas, leggings, low-cut tops, bonnets and torn jeans.
And Texas isn’t the only state cracking down on the overly casual attire of school parents. Lawmakers in Memphis, Tennessee, are trying to pass a bill in July which could enforce a similar dress code in school districts across the state from 2020.
In 2016, a primary school principal in the UK made headlines after taking parents to task for their choice of attire when visiting the school. Skerne Park Academy head teacher, Kate Chisholm, said she had “loads of support” from the community and people saying it was about time something was done.
Could such a policy work in Australia?
“It’s an interesting move and a sad reflection on the state of affairs in that part of the world,” Ian Anderson, president of the Western Australian Primary Principals’ Association (WAPPA), told The Educator.
“We would always be looking at respectful relationships between community and school but putting in place such a code would be seen as unnecessary at this time.”
Anderson said that if a parents’ dress was an issue, the school’s principal would be likely to address this with the individual first, rather than implementing a broad policy around it.
Australian Principals Federation (APF) president, Julia Podbury, said she had never heard of any school in Australia needing to consider raising such matters with parents, saying the behaviour of some parents was more of a problem to school leaders.
“The key issue for our schools is the unacceptable behaviour of a small number of parents,” Podbury told The Educator.
“Schools and parents must work together to get the best outcomes for students.”