Mom: Richmond High School principal inappropriately handled dress code complaint

Posted: 7:36 PM, Mar 13, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-14 00:36:52Z

RICHMOND, Mo. -- An area school district says it’s investigating a complaint brought forward by a parent alleging school staff conducted a dress code review inappropriately.

Richmond R-16 School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Aytes told 41 Action News the district received the complaint Tuesday from the mom of a student at Richmond High School, who said that her daughter was wrongly sent home for wearing shorts deemed too short by district staff, including Principal John Parker, in May 2017.

The mom, who asked 41 Action News not to use her name as she still has children in the district, said she filed the complaint after reading that other students may have faced similar situations.

The timing of the complaint comes on the same day the Board of Education was slated to meet to decide whether to extend Parker’s contract.

The mom believes the principal and other staff members could spot shorts that violated the district’s dress code, which for shorts is mid-thigh length, measured by the finger rule, ensuring the hem of the shorts or skirt reach your fingertips.

Last May, the mom said things got out of hand when her daughter and her classmates were called into the gym. Some girls were told they were able to go back to class, while girls wearing shorts were told to stay.

The mom said staffers then checked the length of the shorts and told 10 students they either needed to change clothes or go home to get different clothes.

“She has been wearing the shorts to school for two years,” explained the mom, who told 41 Action News her daughter’s shorts were indeed long enough.

The mom said she wishes the incident would have been handled differently. For example, she thinks only female staff should have been present.

During a phone interview, Aytes said that although the district plans to investigate, he questioned the timing of the complaint, calling it a “witch-hunt.”

The superintendent said he trusts Parker’s judgment, adding no parents ever came to him about it.

Following the phone call, Aytes sent 41 Action News the following statement: 

“Richmond High School and Richmond Middle School have a dress code approved by the Board of Education and published in their student handbooks.  The dress code does include guidelines on the length of shorts. Typically, it is expected that shorts should extend further down the leg than the tips of the students fingers when their arms are relaxed and hanging down. All complaints against teachers and administrator are investigated, as this one will be now that we are aware of it.  We would like to remind students, parents, and patrons that complaints and concerns can be best handled when reported through the proper channels rather than Facebook and reported contemporaneously with the event rather than ten months later.”