New Info: Civil Rights Complaint Over Dress Code Received By Office Of Civil Rights

The U.S. Department of Education press office says its Civil Rights Office has received a complaint from the Pitt County Coalition for Educating Black Children against Pitt County Schools.

The complaint alleges that the district targets students (predominantly African American students) in the enforcement of its dress code.

The complaint also states that because the district is disproportionately implementing its dress code policy against black students, they are being disproportionately disciplined for dress code violations (such as being placed on in-school or out-of-school suspension). As a result, they are disproportionately missing classes and/or participation in extracurricular activities, negatively impacting their academic achievement.

Right now, the allegations are under evaluation to determine if they are appropriate for OCR investigation and resolution.

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A spokesperson for the Department of Education says their office has not received a complaint from anyone representing the Pitt County Coalition for Educating Black Children.

The group says they filed the complaint on behalf of a J.H. Rose High School Senior who was sent home for dress code violations.

The Coalition alleges the school systems dress code policy targets black students and effectively denies them their rights to a free education.

Its a topic which everyone seems to have an opinion on.

A representative for the school system says a total of 150 students were suspended due to dress code violations.

Of that a total of 77 percent were black and 14 percent were white.

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A complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights says the dress code in Pitt County Schools is targeting black students and denying their right to a free, public education.

The Pitt County Coalition for Educating Black Children has filed the complaint based on the experience of a 17-year-old honors student at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville. The complaint says school officials punished the girl in early January for a dress code violation, which resulted in her missing class. The complaint continues that African-American students throughout the county are being denied class time and participation in extracurricular activities because of dress code violations.

"The actions of the Pitt County Board of Education in adopting and implementing the dress code policy disproportionately causes the loss of instructional time to African American students and consequently increases the rate of student suspensions, school dropouts, low SAT
scores, and adversely contributes to the approximately 30 point achievement gap between Black and White students. The Pitt County Board of Education knew or should have known that their dress code policy would and is adversely impacting African American students," the complaint reads.

The complaint was filed Wednesday.

In a statement Thursday morning, Pitt County Schools says it has not received a copy of the complaint, nor has it received an official confirmation from the Office of Civil Rights that a complaint has been filed.

The school district says until it has a chance to review the information, it cannot comment on the actual complaint.

Late Thursday afternoon, the school system released this statement:

"OCR Complaint - School Uniform Policy

February 25, 2010 - PCS was contacted this morning from various news media representatives about a potential complaint filed with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) regarding Pitt County Board of Education Policy 10.209.

Key Points:

A complaint filed with the OCR is not a lawsuit. The OCR does not open an investigation into every complaint that is received. At this time, the school district has not received anything from the OCR that a complaint has been filed or to indicate that they are opening an investigation into a complaint.

The Pitt County Board of Education’s anti-discrimination policy encourages students and/or their parents to submit any complaints of discrimination, harassment or bullying through the complaint process established in Procedure 10.212-P (Procedure for Student and Parent Grievances). To date, PCS has not received a grievance regarding any type of racial discrimination in the administration of our School Uniform and Appearance Policy.

The Pitt County Board of Education held an extensive year long community engagement process prior to the adoption of the school uniform policy.

Background on Uniforms

Bethel School and Belvoir Elementary School implemented school uniform policies several years prior to the district-wide policy being approved. These pilots were successful, and no claims of racial discrimination were ever made.

PCS has decreased out-of-school suspensions in the last two years by 19%. We recognize that the representation of African-Americans is high. As a district, we will continue to implement initiatives designed to decrease suspension rates for all students.

The following is a break-down of school uniform out-of-school suspensions to date in grades K-12.

Total Number of Suspensions = 174
Total Number of Students = 150
Percent African-American = 77%
Percent Caucasian = 14%
Uniforms represent only 3.2% of all out of school suspensions to date

PCS has never asserted that the uniform policy would raise achievement levels.

The PCS administration has always acknowledged the achievement gap between our African-American and Caucasian students. Although we still have much work to do, the teachers, staff, students, parents and community are to be commended for their efforts in helping our district address this issue. The number of African-American subgroups meeting AYP increased from 41% in 2008 (before uniforms) to 84% in 2009 (after uniforms). Any claim that the uniform policy resulted in lower achievement for African-American students during the first year of uniforms is false.

Since its implementation, the school Uniform and Appearance Policy has had tremendous support from our parents, students, staff and community.

To date, more than $30,000 has been donated to our School Uniform Form fund. This money is used by our School Social Workers to help provide clothing to students in need. While this dollar amount only reflects donations made directly to PCS, we know that many others have made contributions including the NAACP, local churches, businesses, civic groups and individuals. Many schools in this district also have a selection of school uniform clothing that is used to help students in need. These items have also been donated from our parents, students, staff and community. We are very grateful for this support.

“I can’t say enough about the phenomenal support demonstrated by our parents, civic groups, businesses, churches, and the entire community during the implementation of this policy,” commented Superintendent Dr. Beverly Reep. “Our first year was not without challenges, but our second year of implementation has been much smoother. We can only hope that Mr. Hall, CEO of the Kinston Charter Academy, has experienced this same support and success in the implementation of the required uniform policy that exists at the Kinston Charter Academy.”

End of statement


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Brad88 Location: Canada on Nov 27, 2010 at 08:44 AM
    I don't think that dress code is a great idea at all. There are many schools without it and their have no problems with discipline or any problems at all. Of course in some ways dress code is a great thing but if it discriminates other children it should be removed at a minute. I mean if some complaint about clothing code is received it should be really be removed. Why do we need that if there are some people who are complaining about it? Let's make such a code which everybody would like and that's all. However it is only my own opinion. Thanks for the article here.
  • by WHY?!!? on Jun 7, 2010 at 09:44 AM
    Is this thread back in the news?
  • by Dar Location: Wilmar on May 20, 2010 at 09:36 PM
    Great posts, OSOC & Old Guy.
  • by Dar Location: Wilmar on May 20, 2010 at 09:33 PM
    To: To Old Guy @5:56, if you are going to talk taxes, know what you are talking about. For a fact majority of the people follow the IRS rules, I know as I prepared quite a bit from Jan to April 15. As for tax audits, you tanked that one as individual audits for the last several years has been the lowest. IRS has not had the funds for a new TCMP. I suggest you find another thread...something you know about. BTW, I try very hard daily to follow the rules, be helpful to others and make a better life for myself and others. Sounds like someone is grummy to me or just plain mad at the world.
  • by HARLEY Location: NC on Apr 29, 2010 at 08:38 AM
    Didnt have this problem before we lost control of your society
  • by KMJ Location: LA on Apr 27, 2010 at 06:46 PM
    Itch, itch, itch. All 'some' of you do is itch.
  • by Obama Snake Oil co Location: Washington on Apr 23, 2010 at 03:46 PM
    to Old Guy on Apr 17, 2010 at 05:56 PM, simple answer, yellowdog democrats. The rest of us, follow the rules. Just continue whatever you think, you will get caught, do jail time, be the guy on the moped with the obesse girl on the back. Even teachers have dress codes. Did you vote for Obama or did you just get winged off the koolaid?
  • by to Old Guy on Apr 17, 2010 at 02:56 PM
    And tell me who actually follow the rules of the IRS. There are too many people being audited for you to make that an example. How many people follow the rules of the road? How many kids follow the underage drinking rules? How many people follow the don't drink while driving rules? I can go on and on. How many people in this world follow rules? Please just something you can complain about, because you are just mad.
  • by to Old Guy on Apr 17, 2010 at 12:57 PM
    Who probably lives alone and have nobody? There are no dress codes for the teachers, because if they were they would not wear the clothes they wear. Teachers can wear whatever they want. So if you do not go to school don't respond to me.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Apr 16, 2010 at 01:47 PM
    I posted this on the other story as well, when you don't want people to profile them, uniforms are the answer. You don't stand out. So, what this Civil rights group wants is to sue to be able to profile by allowing students to stand out in their gang wear?
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