Parents say dress code at NJ school has gone too far

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ELIZABETH, N.J. -- Parents at Elizabeth Public Schools' John E. Dwyer Academy say they appreciate the student uniform policy, but that this year the school is taking enforcement of the rules way too far.

"I don’t think it was right he was denied access into the school because of the color of his sneakers," said Tannia Fassett, whose 15-year-old son attends the school.

Jerimiah Fassett said the pink details on his shoes is what got him in trouble.

“They’re mostly black, so I thought it was okay?" he said.

Fassett tried to fix his shoes by coloring the pink with a permanent marker. The next day, he says he was forced to miss class and had to call his mom.

"That same day I came to pick him up, there were kids that were being sent home or parents that had to come pick them up," said Tania Fassett.

A school letter sent to parents in August said: “Students who do not adhere to the school uniform policy will not be permitted to enter the building on Thursday, Sept. 6 or any school day thereafter.”

September 6 was the first day of school.

Another mom sent us a photo of her sons sneakers, which have white, rubber soles. She says he was denied entry at the school doors.

"Apparently having “all black sneakers” is suddenly more important than educating our children," said Emy Woods, whose son is a junior at Dwyer. "The efforts and importance by school officials have been misplaced, they have forgotten what education is really about."

It’s Elizabeth Schools policy for Dwyer students to wear uniforms with the school logo. That includes a green polo, black pants or skorts, a black sweater and all black shoes.

"If students are in the uniform dress from top to bottom, with the logo, I think that’s enough," said Kason Little, an activist and student at Dwyer. "At the end of the day, it is federally mandated by the government and our constitution that you cannot deny a child an education based on what they are wearing on their shoes."

Parents say their kids have worn uniforms for years, but strict enforcement to this degree at Dwyer is something new.

The Elizabeth School District responded saying this policy has been in place district-wide for 13 years.

Specific to Dwyer, Elizabeth Schools spokesman Pat Politano said: "A small number of students were not in compliance. The principal informed the students and every parent of changes needed to meet the dress code. All parents agreed to comply."

Politano also stated that parents were informed about the dress code through multiple automated phone calls prior to the start of this school year.

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