Nedburn Thaffe, Gleaner Writer
More than 100 students who turned up for school at the JosÚ MartÝ Technical High School yesterday were forced to make a U-turn after being found in breach of the school's dress code at the start of the second week of the new school year.
"We are taking a zero-tolerance approach. We started the clampdown last year and we continue our efforts. These are some of the small acts that several of them will start out with before going out into society to commit other breaches," an infuriated Richard Troupe, who is the dean of discipline at the Spanish Town, St Catherine school, told The Gleaner yesterday.
"Some of them turned up with their pants too tight, improper hairstyle, incorrect vest exposing their upper body parts and other things."
But despite the large numbers of students who were asked to leave the compound, the dean of discipline insisted it was not a crisis situation.
""We have a school population that is near to 2,000 so it's not really a crisis. A lot of those who came back today were those same persons who we saw last week and told them not to come back with it," he said.
Parents express satisfaction
According to Troupe, a lot of parents in the Spanish Town communities where these students are from have complained that they are facing difficulties having their children conform to the dress code. He said some have even expressed satisfaction with the measures taken by the school. On the other hand, he said there are a few who complained about the stance taken.
"Many parents say they are struggling with them to have them adhere to the school rule. There are those who complain, but this is something that we pointed out to them during our orientation that it will not be tolerated."
While admitting that sending home students "is a risky business", he said last week that alternative measures were taken to discipline those who were found in breach on the first week of the school year.
"Last week we put them in an area by themselves, and we often make efforts to call parents. This morning the dean's office called many parents," he said.
Troupe said he expected the number of students found in breach of the dress code to decrease over the coming weeks.
Last week, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites told The Gleaner that school administrators who decide to turn away students found in breach of the code have the full backing of his office.
"I support that. Students must obey the reasonable code of discipline. School is not a fashion show. It's a place of learning and of character development," the minister said.