A school board in Florida recently sparked a national debate when it suggested instituting a dress code for parents.
Fed up with parents dropping their kids off in skimpy outfits, sloppy clothes, hair curlers, and pajamas, Broward School Board member Dr. Rosalind Osgood decided to act.
According to Osgood, parents who show up looking inappropriate set a bad example for students.
“This is about basic presentation,” Osgood told Yahoo Shine. “Many parents pick their children up wearing curlers in their hair, sweatpants that fall down, and even pajamas. How can we teach our children to be serious about education if their parents don’t set the right tone?”
Although Osgood did not propose a ban on specific items, she said her aim was to encourage parents to dress “as though [they’re] going to church, work, or dinner.”
She added: “It’s hard to take parents seriously when they’re dressed sloppy, and it embarrasses the children, too.”
The mother of three said setting the right example for kids is particularly important to African-Americans, who are often victims of racial profiling.
“If I go into Macy’s in the middle of the day in pajamas, people are going to follow me because they think I’m there to commit a crime,” she said. “If I go in at the same time with a St. John suit, they’re going to respond to me differently. We don’t like to admit it, but our appearance really matters.”
Osgood’s proposal touched a nerve. Many wondered how a parent’s outfit choices affected their student’s ability to learn, while others told her she should focus on more important matters.
Several Broward School Board members disagreed with Osgood and felt mandating a dress code for parents was a bad move.
“I think we’re moving in a terrible direction even talking about this,” Board member Frank Barbieri said. “I’m sure what would happen if we tried to put a policy in place was that poor parents wouldn’t come at all out of fear they were dressed inappropriately.”
Board member Jennifer Prior Brown said the proposed policy was unnecessary.
“I’ve never heard that parental dress has interfered with teaching and learning,” she said. “Parents will talk about the way others are dressed at parent pickup, but that’s gossip. It’s not the role of the board to inject itself in this.”
Bard members voted to nix the idea of a parent dress code, but not before sparking an intense debate.