ACLU Responds with Humor After Louisiana School Bars Girl From Class for Failing to Wear a Belt

Affiliate: ACLU of Louisiana
March 20, 2001 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Louisiana
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CHALMETTE, LA – At a news conference today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana presented local high school officials with much needed uniform accessories — belts inscribed with the ACLU logo — in response to a complaint filed by a parent after his daughter was removed from class for violating the dress code by not wearing a belt.

“”By bringing this matter to the attention of the school and the public, we hope to end the practice of belt inspections, so teachers have more time to teach and students have more time to learn,”” said Cook.

While the complaint did not rise to the level of legal action, Cook said, the ACLU wanted to do its part to prevent such incidents in the future.

Last month, 17-year-old Cassidy Perry, a senior at Chalmette High School, was “”inspected”” by her teacher and found in violation of the school’s mandatory uniform policy because she was not wearing a belt. The school typically “”rents”” belts for 50 cents each to students who forget to wear one to class; however on this day the school had already rented its supply of 20 belts.

As punishment for violating the school’s dress code, Cassidy was removed from her last two classes of the day and sent to the disciplinarian’s office.

Students at Chalmette are also given the opportunity to have parents bring a belt to their child in situations such as these. Unfortunately, Cassidy’s father worked too far away to be able to bring her a belt to wear in class.

“”I am aggrieved by the severe punishment imposed on my daughter for such a minor incident,”” said Gerald Perry, Cassidy’s father. “”I feel that she has a right to a decent public education, and she was deprived of it without just cause. This is an ongoing situation involving many other students, and it undermines the basic mission of our schools.””

Today’s gift of six belts with an ACLU insignia on the underside was presented to Chalmette High School Principal Wayne Warner on behalf of Cassidy Perry. The ACLU requested that the school “”belt master”” hand them out as needed without charge and let the “”beltless”” student know its source.

Other recent examples of “”zero common sense”” policies include students faced with suspensions for wearing black armbands in protest of mandatory uniform policies, a student suspended for doodling, and 20 percent of the student body of Orleans Parish sent home for wearing “”inappropriate”” hair styles.

Such severe punishments make zero sense, according to a recent Educational Testing Service study called, “”Order in the Classroom: Violence, Discipline, and Student Achievement.””

The 50-page study concludes: “”The notions that school uniforms and zero tolerance for gangs would reduce school disorder and improve student academic performance were not supported?. The schools in the study that required school uniforms did not have levels of delinquency significantly different from schools that did not require school uniforms.””

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