ROME, Ga. - There is a dress code controversy at Rome High School. Students and some parents say it goes too far. School officials say it's not that different from previous dress codes, but this year it will be strictly enforced.
Leah Rogers is a senior at Rome High School. She wore a long sleeve black dress and tights to school. She was sent home because the dress was above her knee. "The neckline is high; you can't see any of my body parts that are inappropriate or a distraction. I don't understand why women's bodies are being treated like distractions in the first place," said Rogers.
It's not just the girls. Christian Riveria wore his brand new, Bermuda length shorts to school and got a violation. "I got stopped by a teacher, who told me to go to an administrator, then I got a ticket, and I had to leave," said Riveria. He missed 3 of his classes and was given an unexcused absence.
School Superintendent Lou Byars says the three main changes this year include: no bare shoulders, no piercings except for earrings, and shorts and skirts must be knee length. Byars says there are no exceptions; even the teachers must follow the rules. "We want to have a good environment where the students can learn and be successful," said Byars.
Melanie Conrad has a son at Rome High School. She says she supports dress codes, but this one goes too far and seems to put an emphasis on what the girls can wear. "I've heard stories of girls coming home sobbing because they felt humiliated by this. If an educator is doing something that humiliates a child, something has to stop," said Conrad.
Conrad says administrators should sit down with students and parents to come up with a compromise. "I think we have the ability to work out a policy that would be a model to every other school district," said Conrad.
There's a petition circulating calling for a change to the dress code. It has more than 1200 signatures. Once it hits 1500, there are plans to present it to the administration.