Houston high school principal Carlotta Outley Brown instituted a strict dress code at her school.
Brown, principal at James Madison High School in Houston, Texas, sent a letter to parents April 9 which laid out a rigid code with a list of garments and attire that would be prohibited in the school. And she was speaking directly to parents.
“…we have to have standards, most of all we must have high standards. We are preparing your child for a prosperous future. We want them to know what is appropriate and what is not appropriate for any setting they may be in. This is a professional educational environment where we are teaching our children what is right and what is correct or not correct. We value you but we must ask you to value and follow the rules of the school environment. This guideline will apply to any or all events that happen inside/outside of Madison’s premises.”
Brown is a decades-long well-regarded and award-winning educator in Houston public schools. With a number of degrees, Brown was praised when, in 2007 as an elementary school principal, consolidated two grammar schools while one was being rebuilt. While principal at Lora B. Peck Elementary, she helped the school “successfully thrive” which earned her and the school “numerous distinctions from the Texas Education Agency under the new accountability system.”
Brown is a well-known public figure in Houston and while some are less than thrilled with her edict, others are applauding her.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Brown Has Banned Parents From Coming to the School Wearing Hair Rollers, Caps or Bonnets & Any Garment That Looks Like Pajamas
Brown wrote that educators and parents must model behavior for their children by showing them the “appropriate attire they are supposed to wear when entering a building, going somewhere, applying for a job, or visiting someone outside of the home setting …”
And in order to help accomplish that, Brown sent a letter to parents that laid out the dress code adding she planned to “enforce these guidelines on a daily basis…”
“We are preparing our children for the future and it begins here,” saying that a parent coming to the school wearing the following would not be allowed entry.
The very first on the list are head coverings saying wearing a “satin cap or bonnet,” shower cap or hair rollers “will not be permitted in the building.”
The ban includes any garments that resemble sleep wear.
“Pajamas of any kind will not be permitted in the building along with house shoes or any other attire that could possibly be pajamas, underwear, or home setting wear, such as flannel pajamas …”
2. Brown’s Dress Code Specifically Bans Garments That Are Too Revealing, Like ‘Daisy Dukes,’ Clothing ‘Up Your Behind’ & ‘Sagging Pants’
In her letter, Brown lists the following as garments that, if worn, will have parents forbidden admission to the school.
“Jeans that are torn from your buttocks (behind) to all the way down showing lots of skin will not be permitted in the building or the premises.”
“Leggings that are showing your bottom and where your body is not covered from the front or the back (rear) will not be permitted in the building and on the premises.”
“Very low cut tops or revealing tops that you can see your busts (breasts) will not be permitted in the building or on the premises.
“Sagging pants, shorts, jeans, will not be permitted in the building and on the premises. Men wearing undershirts will NOT be permitted in the building.”
“Short, shorts that are up to your behind will NOT be permitted on the premises and in the building.”
“Daisy Dukes and low rider shorts will not be permitted on the premises and in the building.”
“Dresses that are up to your behind will not be permitted on the premises or in the building or any attire that is totally unacceptable for the school setting.”
3. Brown Wrote That While Parents Are ‘Valued Partners,’ if They Show Up in Any of the Attire on the List, They’ll be Shown the Door
“Please know that if you break our school rules/policies or do not follow one of these rules, you will not be permitted inside the school until you return appropriately dressed for the school setting,” she wrote.
“Parents …we value you but we must ask you to value and follow the rules of the school environment. This guideline will apply to any or all events that happen inside/outside of Madison’s premises. Thanks for understanding and being a partner in your child’s/children’s education. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.”
Many are outraged, but not all.
4. Many Are Outraged by Brown’s Dress Code But Based on Social Media Commentary, Many More Are Supportive
Author, media personality and social commentator, Tariq Nasheed, who has some 400,000 social media followers, says Brown’s dress code for parents is a “tactic” employed by “white supremacists.”
“This type of discrimination tactic is commonly used by white supremacists. They will make an assessment of the type of attire generally worn by Black people, and then implement a ban on that attire.”
On his Instagram post, there were many comments like this one:
“Why would you want to come to the school in rollers and pajamas anyway? The actual problem is that somehow looking like a slob has become an acceptable practice. Dress with some dignity and decency. If you have a bonnet and rollers in your hair going to a school you need your face smacked. That’s not white supremacy that’s self-decency. GTFOH.”
Nasheed wasn’t alone in his criticism of Brown.
“Classicism. I’m thinking about the DC mom I know who works overnight as an EMT. She gets off of work at 5am, picks up her 5&7 year old boys from the sitter, gets them ready for school&drops them off (After being up for 19 hours) We would raise hell if her principal demanded this”
But many Houstonians weighed in and were largely supportive.
“It’s longggggg overdue! As an educator, it’s embarrassing for their child to see their parents come to school dressed inappropriately! Other administrators should follow in her footsteps!!!”
5. Brown, an Educator for 25 Years, Was Featured as a ‘Hero Educator’ on The Ellen DeGeneres Show
When Brown was principal at Lora B. Peck Elementary School in Houston for 13 years. There she created a number of programs and rejuvenated outreach for homeless students and provided living essentials for very poor children. Thinking the school was doing a promo about education for the Ellen DeGeneres Show, she and 300 students and homeless outreach staff were stunned when DeGeneres herself appeared on a video screen live from her show in Burbank, California.
DeGeneres lauded Brown for her tireless work on behalf of her school community, calling her an “amazing woman.”
Brown created a homeless outreach program at Peck Elementary school which opened on weekends for kids in need.
“You work 7 days a week and are on call 24-7 for your students,” DeGeneres says. Brown begins to cry. “My children are the most important thing …if they need me, I am there….”
Then DeGeneres announced that as part of the Target stores, ‘Thanks a Billion’ campaign that honors educators, she presented Brown a $100,000 check for the school.
Brown graduated from James Madison High School which she now leads. She earned degrees from Texas Southern University and Houston Baptist University and later earned her master’s degree in Educational Leadership at Texas Southern University.
She was the lead Principal at Houston Independent School District and in particular, Peck Elementary before being promoted to James Madison.
In a bio for ‘Top 30 Women,’ it was noted that Brown “turned” Peck around “to earn the impressive distinction and honor from the State of Texas as a ‘High”’performing school and honors from the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School.
Brown herself was named a Terrel H. Bell recipient which recognized as one of five top principals in the U.S.
She was inducted into Order of Eastern Star, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc., Jack and Jill of America, Inc., and The Links, Incorporated.