'Come dressed appropriately': Madison HS principal defends dress code for parents in interview

HOUSTON – The Houston ISD principal making waves over a controversial new dress code for parents is standing by her decision.

In an interview with Channel 2 News, Carlotta Ousley Brown spoke out for the first time defending her dress code. 

She's only been on the job at Madison High School for 29 days. Brown previously served as principal at Peck Elementary school and says she had a similar dress code for parents there for 15 years.

"I'm saying come dressed appropriately," she said.

Brown said three incidents over the last month led her to implement the dress code at Madison.

"A parent came and she had a see-thru top on and you could clearly see her breasts and nipples and she wanted to walk through the school. The next parent came, she had a thong on and low rising jeans she wanted to walk through the school. So when the third parent came, it needed to be addressed," Brown said. 

She implemented a long list of what not to wear, warning parents they could be turned away and refused entry until they came back dressed appropriately.

"We have impressionable young men and we have men here. They see things, they're looking. You don't know what's going through their mind. They have raging hormones and so I want to ensure that everyone knows there's a proper way to dress," she said. 

The dress code letter dated April 9 came one day after Channel 2 News interviewed Joselyn Lewis, who said she was not allowed to register her daughter at Madison because of what she had on. 

READ: Mother claims she wasn't allowed to enroll daughter in school due to outfit

"She was going to have to walk upstairs and so while she's walking, you could see through the nightshirt," Brown said. 

Lewis maintains she was wearing a T-shirt dress that was an appropriate length and was not revealing in any way.

"What if that's all I had to wear? Do you know me? How do you pass judgment on someone else?", Lewis said. 

At the top of Brown's list of don'ts: Bonnets, which many black women use to protect their hairstyles when they sleep at night.

"What is the reason to come in your rollers in your satin bonnet? Would you wear it to church? Would you wear it on a night out on the town? Why would you wear it to school?" Brown asked.

The principal says she's received an overwhelming amount of support via email and social media. 

But critics say she's gone too far.

"This targets black women. This targets women. And that her rationale was we have men at this school impressionable young men it's almost like, please don't entice, like the men are animals and they can't possibly be controlled if you wear low riding jeans. It's a bad look for everyone," said Dr. Roni Dean-Burren. 

About the Author: