Mother Jackie Welch said this is the outfit worn by her daughter on the day school officials made her wear a jersey over her clothes at South Meridian Elementary. (Contributed photo)

Mother Jackie Welch said this is the outfit worn by her daughter on the day school officials made her wear a jersey over her clothes at South Meridian Elementary. (Contributed photo)

Outfit covered up by B.C. school officials ‘purchased by grandmother’

Mother says she’d like her daughter’s South Surrey school to revisit dress-code guidelines

The mother of a B.C. student who was made to wear a jersey over an outfit deemed “inappropriate” this week says her daughter wore the off-the-shoulder top to school about a dozen times this year before it became an issue.

And, she noted, it was purchased by her daughter’s grandmother.

READ MORE: South Surrey elementary students cautioned about clothing

“She was pulled into the office, her and one of her friends, (and) told that her shoulders hanging out was too inappropriate for school,” Jackie Welch told Peace Arch News Friday, of her daughter Madison’s experience three days ago.

“If her grandmother thought it was cute, how can it be inappropriate?”

Surrey school officials, Welch said, “never, ever contacted me about it.”

PAN reported this week that two students at South Meridian Elementary in South Surrey were made to wear jerseys over their clothes Tuesday, and that female Grade 6 and 7 students were gathered into the school library on the same day for a “discussion” regarding appropriate dress.

School district spokesman Doug Strachan confirmed Thursday that parents were not given advance notice of the discussion, and that Grade 6 and 7 boys were not included in it. The jersey measure, he told PAN, was a “one-off” to deal with the issue in the moment, and was not an “institutionalized” approach.

Many parents took to a closed Facebook page, and then to PAN’s Facebook page after the story went public Thursday afternoon, to voice their opinions on the issue.

Some describe what happened as “ridiculous,” others pointed to a need for education, including around “rape culture.” Several expressed concern with the focus on girls, while others were critical of how some youth are dressing.

“Maybe some self respect and decorum would go a long way,” writes Sandy Evans. “Why not instill some dignity and class at a young age. Dress for success.”

Kim Streifel commented that “some schools dress codes are ridiculous… when it comes to the girls.”

“Now if the girls are wearing booty shorts or micro minis… shame on those parents,” Streifel adds. “I think the school has every right to teach the girls this is inappropriate, if they’re parents are failing to do so. In my opinion.”

Cindy Dalglish, a Surrey school board candidate in last month’s civic election, writes it is “very troubling” that the boys weren’t included in the larger discussion.

“What a person wears does not give the right for others to assign anything to it,” she adds. “Including admin and teachers.”

Another commented that the issue is not about boys, but “about a child containing their innocence while they still have it.”

Welch told PAN she felt the school sexualized her daughter – who is in Grade 6 and turned 11 in September –by making her wear the jersey.

“She was going to school thinking it was an outfit that she liked,” she said. “And it wasn’t the first time she’s worn it.”

Welch said she is strict about what her daughter wears, “even at home,” and that she’d had no concerns with Madison’s choice of attire Tuesday. She posted a photo of Madison in the outfit that got her in trouble at school to PAN’s Facebook page Friday morning “so people can see it” before forming an opinion.

According to a reminder that was included in a May 2018 newsletter, the school dress code’s “only guideline is that dress be in good taste.”

“Clothing should not be offensive or distracting. For example, shorts are acceptable providing that they are not too short,” the reminder reads, in part.

“Tops should not reveal bare back, shoulders, or midriff and undergarments should not be visible.”

Strachan had told PAN Thursday that the school is to continue discussions with parents around dress-code guidelines, approaches and options.

Sent a copy of the photo of Madison’s outfit Friday morning, Strachan was not immediately available to comment further.

The issue was also raised at the school’s parent-advisory committee meeting Thursday. Welch said she was asked by the PAC to attend, but was unable to stay long enough to hear the discussion.

She told PAN she was later advised that the committee had expressed to the principal that “they felt it was 100 per cent inappropriate to be making (the girls) put a jersey on.”

“They felt if there was an issue with the clothing they should be going straight to the parent, and not pointing her out at school,” said Welch.

The principal, she was told, “was quite receptive to the discussion.”

Welch said she would like to see the school revisit its dress-code guidelines, and that she would be interested in participating in that process.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Lead donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at the Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Doug Routley is the chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act. (File photo)
Routley selected chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA acknowledges there will be a lot of material to process

Amanda Vance, executive director of the DDBIA, said the business organization will host a workshop for its members on how to deal with customers who refuse to wear masks. (File photo)
Workshop to help Duncan businesses deal with customers refusing to wear masks

DDBIA says businesses continue to deal with anti-maskers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read