High School Student Posts Facebook Rant About Dress Code Violation, Principal Responds

| by Karin Sun

A South Carolina teen posted a brief rant on Facebook about a dress code violation at her school, and her principal has responded, the Beaufort Gazette reports.

Carey Burgess, 17, of Beaufort, South Carolina, posted the angry, sarcastic rant on her Facebook page on Oct. 27. In the post, Burgess said she had been disciplined that day for wearing a skirt that was "too short," and accused teachers and administrators at Beaufort High School of sexism.

Burgess and a friend were excused from class that morning to go to the vending machines because her teacher was planning to do "nothing all class period, as usual," according to the post.

As she was walking down the hallway, Burgess was reportedly stopped by a staff member, Jennifer Woods, who told her that her khaki skirt was too short. Burgess said she was placed in in-school suspension for the day and told to go home afterward.

Burgess said she felt humiliated by the way she was treated over the alleged violation.

"Thank you for bringing me to tears in front of my friends and classmates because you do not have the decency to pull me aside and explain the problem," she said in her post. "Then again, I did not have the decency to put on real clothes today."

According to the Oct. 27 Facebook post, Burgess had dressed in the skirt for a lesson with the Teacher Cadet Program, which encourages high school students to pursue careers in teaching or public education advocacy.

In the same Facebook post, she included a picture of herself wearing the skirt in question and a striped sweater.

"As Student Body President, junior marshal, and a recipient of the Palmetto Fellows, I was heading down the path of hard drugs (good thing you're testing next year!), strip clubs, and sugar daddies," the high-achieving teen said in the Facebook post.

She added that she was tired of the "misogynistic views" of her high school and took issue with sexist comments made by certain male staff at the school.

By 2 p.m. the next day, Burgess' post had garnered 45 comments, 300 likes and 2,100 shares.

Many Facebook posters, including current and former high school students, expressed sympathy with Burgess' rant against the alleged sexism surrounding dress code enforcement at school.

"This system is misogynistic and promotes sexism," Talia Isabela Parisi, from nearby Battery Creek High School, wrote on Oct. 1, according to a post shared by another commenter in response to Burgess' rant. "I am offended by the way I've been spoken to and made to feel like a villain in my own school for trying to go to class, get my work done, & leave like I'm supposed to."

Another female student at Beaufort High who received similar treatment to Burgess said that school administrators promoted sexist double standards in the way they enforced the dress code.

"How is my skirt so short to get sent home but guys can wear [Chubbies] and expose WAY more leg than me & still be in school," the girl wrote in reference to a brand of short men's shorts.

Corey Murphy, the principal of Beaufort High School, has since responded to Burgess' post.

Murphy, who congratulated Burgess for her "passionate writing," said he spoke with Woods, the administrator who disciplined Burgess, and found that she handled the alleged dress code violation "just like I would have expected her to and the same way we would have handled any other kid in the same situation."

He added that, although he is standing behind the school's discipline of Burgess, he believed the skirt she was wearing in the photo accompanying her Facebook post to be appropriate for school.

According to district policy, skirts have to fall no more than 3 inches above the knee to be acceptable under the dress code. Students found to be in violation of school dress codes are pulled aside and given an opportunity to change before being issued an in-school suspension for the first violation. Further violations may result in parent conferences and out-of-school suspensions.

Only 71 dress code violations out of 5,000 incidences were reported in the 2013-14 school year, according to district data.

Burgess said her post was intended not only to complain about dress code enforcement, but to bring to light issues of sexism and treatment of female students at the school.

She also said she was touched by all of the support she received in response to the post.

"Community support has been more than I ever imagined," she told the Beaufort Gazette. "I was shocked to find out how many girls at all Beaufort County schools feel oppressed and discriminated against in the classroom."

Sources: Beaufort Gazette, Carey Burgess/Facebook / Photo credit: Carey Burgess/Facebook