HOKE COUNTY, N.C. (Aaron Moody and Abbie Bennett | The News and Observer) - A North Carolina school system has taken responsibility after an administrator denied a student a bus ride home because of her shirt, according to local reports.
India Middleton took photos and video Friday outside Hoke County High School in Raeford, where she found her 16-year-old daughter Makhigha Davis locked out of the building.
Middleton said her daughter wasn't allowed to get on the bus "because administration said her shirt was inappropriate," in a Facebook post shared more than 4,800 times by Wednesday.
One of the photos shows Davis' shirt just off her shoulder. The video shows Middleton pulling on school doors that are locked and saying, "My child was left outside for an hour and 45 minutes."
"She was just in the bus lot waiting for her bus to pull up," Middleton said of her daughter in an interview with The News & Observer. "She was reading a book and (the administrator) called out, 'Aye you.'"
"Hoke County Schools will not make excuses for the poor judgment demonstrated by the assistant principal. The best course of action would have been to allow the student to get on the bus Friday. All administrators understand that if a child is pulled from a bus then they are responsible for that child's supervision until they are safely picked up by a parent."
The Hoke County High School student and parent handbook says that a first offense for violating the dress code is a warning. Further offenses are met with in-school suspension or out-of-school suspension lasting fewer than 10 days.
Most of the example violations in the handbook are for dress that could be considered threatening or intimidating:
"Examples of dress code violations include, but are not limited to:
- Presenting a bodily appearance, wearing any sort of clothing, headwear, accessories, jewelry, symbols, or styles which are intended to be, or are, intimidating, harassing, disruptive, vulgar, profane, provocative, offensive, obscene, excessively tight, revealing, excessively loose/baggy fitting, or which endangers the health or safety of the student or others is prohibited.
- Attire or jewelry of any kind with messages or illustrations that are unlawful, lewd, vulgar, indecent, derogatory, degrading, or that promote violence or an unsafe environment.
- Advertise any conduct or service not permitted by law or board policy on school property, including activities and events held on campus after school hours. Examples may include, but are not limited to: weapons, drugs, alcohol, criminal acts, or sexual conduct; Bandanas, “skull caps," stocking head wear, “do-rags," etc., or other group identifying head wear is not allowed to be worn or displayed on campus at any time, including activities and events held on campus after school hours.
- Any sort of “group” attire, etc. intended to intimidate or to insinuate violence, or disrupt the safe, orderly, educational focus of the campus, including activities and events held on campus after school hours."
The handbook does not define what clothing would be considered "provocative" or "revealing" and does not explicitly prohibit a shirt like the one Davis was wearing.
Davis' teachers didn't comment on her shirt throughout the entire school day, according to ABC11.