"The very best thing you can be in life is a teacher, provided that you are crazy in love with what you teach, and that your classes consist of eighteen students or fewer. Classes of eighteen students or fewer are a family, and feel and act like one." Kurt Vonnegut
A Beaufort, S.C., high school student's diatribe against an alleged dress code violation has reached thousands of people on social media just hours after she says a skirt landed her in in-school suspension.
Carey Burgess, who writes on Facebook that she is Beaufort High’s student body president, says a staff member who saw her walking in the hall Tuesday morning told her that her khaki skirt was "too short" and gave her an in-school suspension.
"Thank you for bringing me to tears in front of my friends and classmates because you do not have the decency to pull me aside and explain the problem. Then again, I did not have the decency to put on real clothes today," Burgess writes.
Here is her public post:
Today, I wore this outfit to Beaufort High School. About 20 minutes into the day, my friend and I were excused from...
As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, just 24 hours after she took to Facebook, Burgess' words and a picture of her outfit had garnered about 40 comments, 300 likes and 1,370 shares.
Principal Corey Murphy said he attributed that reach to Burgess' talent and passionate writing more than a wide-spread problem in the enforcement of his school's policies.
"She's a wonderful writer, she's a very gifted writer," Murphy said. "That's what it was, you can feel the emotion in her words. Something like that, that's impressive."
Murphy said he could not comment on individual student discipline, but said that he immediately spoke with administrator Jennifer Woods, who stopped Burgess, and found that she handled the incident "just like I would have expected her to and the same way we would have handled any other kid in the same situation."
He added that her outfit as depicted in the Facebook photo was within the dress code.
According to the Beaufort County School District, skirts must be "modest and of sufficient length," no shorter than three inches above the top of the knee when standing.
For a first offense, a student is to be informed of their dress code breach and given a chance to change into acceptable clothing, according to the student code of conduct. Only then should administrators relegate a student to in-school suspension.
Many commenters were adults who said they approved of Burgess' choice of clothes. Others were current and former Beaufort High students, such as one female student who said she has experienced similar treatment.
"How is my skirt so short to get sent home but guys can wear [Chubbies] and expose WAY more leg than me & still be in school," the girl wrote, referencing a brand of particularly short men's shorts.
The Chubbies Shorts website features several pictures of models whose 5.5-inch-inseam wares show far more than 3 inches of thigh.
When asked about that brand, Murphy took to the Internet and found examples in which he said some wearers looked appropriate and others did not.
"I won't villify a garment," he said. "It's just the wear of it."
Burgess and Murphy agreed that dress codes are a minor issue compared to education and instruction. Burgess, however, said the poor instruction in her classroom was exactly the reason she was in the hall Tuesday.
Her teacher, she wrote, excused her to go to the vending machines because she was planning to do nothing, "as usual," according to Burgess' post.
Murphy says he plans to speak with the teacher in question but added that most students, including his own daughter, invariably tell their parents they did nothing at school, day after day.
Burgess, however, is a particularly high-achieving student, and recipient of a Palmetto Fellows scholarship.
On Tuesday, she writes, she dressed for a lesson with the Teacher Cadet Program, which works to encourage high-achieving high school students to pursue careers in teaching or as civic advocates for public education.
The school, however, responded to her outfit as if she were "dressing to go to a night club or the whore house," Burgess added. "... Maybe our society isn't yet advanced enough to handle 3 inches of my thigh. This is a patriarchal society and I am a woman. I have to be kept in my place, or I may do something that is so rarely seen in Beaufort High School -- learn."
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