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Volume 70, Issue 29, Friday, October 1, 2004


Parental responsibility not optional

Paige Nieto
Opinion Columnist

Recently, a student in Indiana had his pants duct-taped by the assistant principal of his school after being sent to her office for violating the school's dress code. The boy's father feels that the school has overstepped its boundaries.

The boy was sent to the office of Assistant Principal Patricia Walters after a teacher noticed his underwear above his pants, and asked him to raise his shirt. Once in her office, Walters asked him to tuck his shirt in and pull up his pants. She then encircled his waist three times with duct tape and sent him on his way.

Scott Allison, the boy's father, was extremely upset and claims the school wouldn't have noticed his son's underwear had they not asked him to raise his shirt. However, the teacher noticed the underwear prior to asking the student to lift up his shirt, and once his dress code violation was discovered, he was sent to the assistant principal for disciplinary action.

What seems to irritate Allison the most is that his 12-year-old son was sent out in front of his peers after having the duct taped wrapped around his waist. Nevertheless, the school did what it had to do to enforce the dress code, and a more pertinent question would be why Allison allowed his son to be in violation of school policy in the first place. He says that the school overstepped its boundaries, but in actuality it did what it had to do to enforce its rules.

Sure, it's embarrassing to have duct tape wrapped around your pants as a belt. However, that problem could have been avoided if Allison had ensured his son was following the rules that every other student in his school has to follow. 

It is the policy of most schools to send out a dress code at the beginning of the year and to let the parents know that disciplinary action will be taken if their child is found in violation of that code. Although it is true that the teacher in question asked the child to lift up his shirt, she also noticed his underwear above his pants prior to asking him.

There was no physical repercussion to Assistant Principal Walter's action. At worst -- and this seems to be Allison's only valid fear -- the boy was mocked for the rest of the day. However, when a student breaks the dress code he or she is to be punished and used as an example. What makes Allison's son so different that he shouldn't have to wear his pants at his waist where they belong? Why is it that he should not be subjected to the same consequences as other students? Schools embarrass students who violate the dress code, hoping there will be no further violations. 

Allison needs to accept responsibility; he is partly at fault for his son's embarrassment because he did not go the extra mile as a parent and make sure his child did not violate school dress code. His son knew what he was doing when he decided to break the dress code, and he knew that there would be a punishment if he was caught. Maybe he will remember this the next time he is about to wear clothes that violate the dress code.

Nieto, a columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at

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