Wooddale middle, high school dress code enforced - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Wooddale middle, high school dress code enforced

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Administrators at two Memphis schools are cracking down on a dress code and warning parents after gunshots and fights broke out near Wooddale Middle and High schools this past Tuesday.

Memphis City Schools officials say they've worked hard to reduce gang activity in the classroom, but what happens outside of school is a different issue.

Four people who weren't students were arrested near the two schools Feb. 26. Administrators say guns were fired while around 100 students were nearby. Groups of students wearing similar colors fought students wearing other colors - a sign a gang crime.

It's a sign of gang crime -- and now school administrators are cracking down on the dress code.

"Gangs wear particular colors, particular kinds of symbols, so when we see those signs and symbols showing up in the community around our schools then we know that there's gang activity around that school," said Ron Pope, Memphis City Schools coordinator of gang and truancy prevention.

The school system wants to get ahead of the problem. Both the middle school and high school principals sent letters home in the past few days in wake of the incident explaining what happened. The letters also detailed that there will be renewed enforcement of the dress code.

The schools said the students will wear a uniform of black, white or khaki. They won't be able to wear colors or hats or sports gear or cartoon characters on clothing.

"I support the administration with enforcing the dress code," said Jacqueline Hunt, Wooddale guardian. Her two nephews attend Wooddale High and she had to purchase new clothes this week.

"I love the principal here and, cause he's concerned for the children and getting their education," she said.

If students don't comply with the dress code they could face suspensions.
The news of suspensions does not sit well with some Wooddale parents.

That doesn't sit well with some parents.

"You're going to kick my child out of school cause of what color shoes he got on and he got to change that within 24 hours?," questioned Clotee Walker. "That ain't going to happen."

Police were on patrol when school let out Friday. Officers were encouraging students to head home. School officials say the dress code could help reduce the threat of gang violence on campus.

"The thing we want to make sure is that everyone understands that we're very serious about school safety and protecting students," Pope said.

The MCS dress code has been in effect for years, but Wooddale Middle and High Schools had let students make some exceptions as a convenience to parents. Administrators with the school district say if Wooddale parents are concerned their child could be involved in a gang, they can contact the school system. MCS has resources to help.

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