'Clearly see her breasts': Principal holds PTSO meeting over parent dress code

By Phil Archer - Reporter, Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - Madison High School Principal Carlotta Brown’s decision to implement a dress code for parents set off a national debate.

On Tuesday night, the first meeting of the Parent Teacher Student Organization was held at the school.

Parents can no longer come on campus wearing pajamas, leggings, curlers, short dresses, low-cut tops, shower caps or shower bonnets. There's also a long list of prohibited clothing.

Brown instituted the dress code shortly after taking the job at Madison last month.

"A parent came and she had a see-through 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-riding jeans. She wanted to walk through the school. So, when the third parent came, it needed to be addressed," Brown said.

Brown said she received overwhelming support for the dress code. Parents said they don’t have a problem with it.

“I’m fine with it,” Francis Ford said. “I put on appropriate clothes so I don’t have a problem with it.”

“I mean, parents should have the common sense to come to your child’s school dressed properly,” Denise Collins said.

Others called the dress restriction unfair and elitist.

When Joselyn Lewis tried to register her daughter at the school, she was turned away for wearing what the school called a "nightshirt."

She said it was a dress.

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

Tuesday's meeting produced a largely supportive crowd for Brown.

Tuesday night was the first time parents had a chance to address the principal face to face about her new dress code instituted for parents. The PTSO's president is fully behind Brown's new policy. She believes it teaches the right message.

"If we're requiring our students to wear the appropriate dress, I don't see anything wrong with our parents coming into the building in the same token -- being appropriately dressed," Kantanganyka Johnson said.

Brown sparked national debate last week when she began to enforce the dress code for parents. She said she did so after observing three separate incidents in which parents came to the school dressed in see-through clothing or in clothing that caused body parts to be exposed.

Most of the parents we spoke to are fine with the dress code but hope there is some leeway in the event of emergencies. One parent explained how she rushed to campus recently when her son called and said shots had been fired.

"I wasn't thinking about, 'Oh, I need to dress the proper way to come up to the schoolhouse to pick up my child,' if they think their life is in danger," mother Tanika Thomas said.

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