KELSO, Wash. -- Some parents in Kelso are upset over what they say are overly strict rules when it comes to the high school’s dress code.
Three different parents told KGW their daughters got in trouble for wearing jeans that had rips and holes in them.
“This has gotten out of hand,” said Angela Johnson, whose daughter is a sophomore at Kelso High School.
On the first day of school, Johnson says her daughter called her from the school’s office asking her to bring a change of clothes.
“When I walked in [the office], all the chairs were full with girls. They were wearing jeans and sweatshirts.”
Johnson says a specific group of students are being targeted, too.
Parents told KGW that the jeans in question were ones that had styled rips and holes above the knee. The listed dress code on the school’s website says “skirts, short [sic], rips or dresses must be 5 inches from the top of the knee in all positions.”
Johnson said that her daughter and other students wore the same style of jeans last year, but didn’t get in trouble.
“They’re singling out the same girls over and over again. They’re missing school,” she said. “They’re in the office for an hour trying to get ahold of parents. Or they have to get clothes out of their gym lockers and keep changing over and over again.”
While Johnson took issue with the dress code itself, she added that the school’s “hall monitor” was being overbearing as well.
“It’s shaming the kids. It’s embarrassing the kids,” she said.
Lee Botero, another KHS parent said his daughter got in trouble for wearing the same kind of jeans.
“My reaction is not great. I think it’s a little overboard for what the girls are going through already,” he said.
“Honestly, there’s no skin showing. It’s just holes,” said KHS sophomore Noeila Aguilar in regards to the style of jeans. She was wearing a pair of ripped jeans at school on Thursday when speaking with KGW. “Somebody in the office told me these are not OK.”
Aguilar also said that crosses and crucifixes were also not allowed under the school dress code which bans “gang attire.”
She's been told not to wear this Cross either. Says she was told it could be viewed as a "gang" symbol. Her brother couldn't wear a rosary. pic.twitter.com/CBwYVeMI80— Taylor Viydo (@TaylorViydoKGW) September 14, 2017
“My brother also got in trouble for having a rosary because it was ‘gang related,’” she said.
Parents, including Johnson, told KGW they had heard similar complaints from students.
Johnson started an online petition in an effort to generate discussion about the dress code.
“We’re trying to go the right way. The right steps,” she said. “Kelso High School is amazing. I love Kelso High School. I love the staff. It’s one person that’s deciding who can wear what.”
Johnson said she discussed the dress code with Kelso High School’s principal, but says she was told that any changes to the policy would have to come from the school board.
As of Thursday evening, the Kelso School District Superintendent’s office had not returned an email or phone call seeking comment.