From questionable dress codes to teacher and student relationship scandals, the nation’s educators have seen their fair share of drama. Remember when a high school in Kentucky sent a student home for exposing her collarbone and potentially distracting her male classmates? Sadly, it gets more outrageous than that.
Wacky and seemingly insane school rules pop up all over the country all of the time. Some make sense, while others leave parents ranting on social media about them.
If the punishment fits the crime here, we’re too embarrassed to ask.
Fines for Misbehavior
A few schools across the country have decided to hold the parents of misbehaving students responsible for their children’s actions, by hitting them where it hurts: their wallets.
Chicago parent Marsha Godard told HuffPost in 2013 that her son’s charter school was forcing her to pay $3,000 in fines for his inability to abide by the school’s strict rules. At this Noble Network of Charter Schools school, which is known for issuing thousands of dollars of fines each year, infractions like having untied shoes and being even a half-minute late to class, can earn you demerits.
Godard had difficulty paying the fines.
“I’m unemployed,” she said. “I’m trying to put food on the table, I’m trying to put clothes and shoes on our feet so I don’t have money to pay fines when education is supposed to be free.”
In 2012, Dallas father Norris Baylor received a Class-C Misdemeanor ticket from Madison High School when his 17-year-old son Jordan skipped more than 10 days of school.
Jordan, a ninth-grader, has documented disability issues and learning difficulties. His father is disabled and is on a fixed income. Both were looking at jail time for failing to pay the ticket linked to Jordan’s truancy.
Prison-Style Jumpsuits for Dress Code Violations
In an effort to make students more aware and reflective of the conservative nature of their community, Gonzales High School in Gonzales, Texas, made headlines in 2008 when it placed violators of its dress code in prison-style jumpsuits.
Students who wore clothing outside of the parameters of the code were placed in navy blue coveralls, unless they brought their own change of clothing; their only other option was to serve in-school suspension.
The dress code prohibited students from wearing spaghetti-strap tank tops, cargo pants, extra baggy pants, and T-shirts. Girls were banned from wearing miniskirts and boys weren’t allowed to have facial hair or wear earrings. Additionally, anyone with visible underwear would receive the punishment.
Silly Rules that Seemingly Began with Good Intentions
We would like to think these rules were meant for good, but some make you wonder.
Bans on Outside Food
For many, brown-bagging it to school is almost considered a rite of passage. A school in Chicago, however, didn't agree.
Tired of seeing students bring sodas and chips with them on field trips, the principal of the Little Village Academy on the city's West Side decided to take action, and in a rather drastic way. In 2005, the administrator issued a ban on all food from home brought into the school, forcing students to purchase meals from the cafeteria.
Since the ban, the school revamped the menu, giving it a healthier feel. The school stated that it saw a decrease in the amount of meals purchased since the healthy makeover, meaning that students chose going hungry rather than eating the school-provided lunch.
No Biking to School
Biking to school is the only option some students have. A school in Saratoga Springs, New York, however, issued a ban against this mode of transportation.
In 1994, Maple Avenue Middle School prohibited students from biking to and from school. The ban was created to keep students safe and prevent them from cycling on roads that would be considered difficult to bike on. In 2009, a Maple Avenue seventh-grader and his mother biked to and from school each day; his mother said, "We feel strongly we have a right to get to school by a mode of transportation we deem appropriate."
Limited Bathroom Breaks
If you thought going to the restroom whenever nature called was a basic student right, you thought wrong.
A school district in Houston, CyFair Independent School District, raised some eyebrows in 2015 when one of its students’ parents ranted on TV about its coupons for good behavior. Among the rewards that are redeemed with the coupons? Bathroom breaks.
“We should all just have the right to go to the bathroom, period, because we’re alive on Earth” Sarah Moreno, parent of two boys, told the station. The school countered, citing that the coupons were just one incentive to motive the students to do their best and that "teachers consistently work with students on practicing good time management and planning their day appropriately."
Limiting Playtime...for Kids
“Keeping your hands to yourself” has reached a whole new level.
Prohibiting Competitive Games
If the parents of students who attend Oakdale School in Montville, Connecticut, want their children to learn and play competitive games in their gym classes, they are likely to be disappointed.
In 2007, the school principal banned dodgeball, kickball, soccer, and other games that involved contact. The school opted for activities that built skills and camaraderie, as opposed to competition and conflict.
One parent, Shari Clewell, told The New York Times, "Life is competitive ... They're kids. They are competitive."
Prohibition on Soccer Balls
In England, where soccer, or football, is king, you may think that schools are training their students to learn the sport as soon as they can walk. This isn’t the case, however.
Malvern Primary School in Huyton, a town in northwest England's Merseyside county, issued a ban on leather and plastic soccer balls in 2011, citing that they were too dangerous. In a newsletter sent home with the students, the school asked that only sponge soccer balls are brought onto their grounds.
The ban was quite shocking, as famous soccer star Steven Gerrard is an alumni of the offending school. The irony of the ban wasn’t lost on those against the new rule. Tam Fry, chairman of the obesity prevention charity the Child Growth Foundation, called the school out on its prohibition and called it “stupid.”
"Schools should be places to learn,” Fry told The Telegraph. “It may think it is protecting the children but they could just as easily fall over playing with a sponge ball. We do have a litigation culture but you can't tell me Steven Gerrard did not play football in the playground. I bet he even fell over a few times."
The school, on the other hand, stood strong in its ruling, declaring that the measurement was taken to protect the students.
“Malvern Primary School treats the health and safety of its pupils as a top priority and has for a long time had a policy of protecting children by recommending sponge balls in the playground before school starts and during breaks, especially as the playground accommodates children from the age of four to 11,” it said.
No Touching—at All
High-fives, handshakes, and hugs became a thing of the past for students at Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, Virginia, when a ban against touching was enforced in 2007.
The Fairfax County middle school claims it implemented the new rule for student safety due to cramped quarters. Meant to accommodate 850 students, the school counted 1,100 in its student body at the time.
School officials feared that touches that were seen as harmless by some could escalate into something dangerous and uncomfortable for others.
"You get into shades of gray," Kilmer's principal, Deborah Hernandez, told the Associated Press. "The kids say, 'If he can high-five, then I can do this.' "
Taking it a step further, in 2017, an elementary school in California banned its students from playing tag at recess. Gold Ridge Elementary School in Folsom, California, enforced the new rule out of concern the game would lead to physical altercations, as some of the students complained participants were touching too aggressively.