MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - It's been 16 years since the Mobile County Public School System implemented a school uniform policy. On Monday, nearly 100 LeFlore High School students were suspended for two days after they violated the policy.
LeFlore principal Alvin Dailey said enough is enough.
"I've repeatedly told kids before today to pull up your pants up, take that jacket off, tuck your shirt in. After a while, it's time to stop talking and take some action," said Dailey.
That action is getting reaction from many.
"When you say it again and again and again, you need to have people listen. And so hopefully people will listen. Hopefully, it will be a wake-up call," said Nancy Pierce of the Mobile County Public School System.
Pierce said it is up to individual schools to discipline students who do not abide by the rules. She said that includes uniform infractions.
Jadine Johnson of the Southern Poverty Law Center said she disagrees. The non-profit, civil rights organization filed a lawsuit against the school system in 2011 for similar actions taken against the students.
"We are shocked and saddened by the recent suspension of the LeFlore High School students in Mobile. These students were not being disruptive. They were not being violent. They were not using drugs. They were in school. And to suspend them for uniform violation means that they are not at school," said Johnson.
According to the Mobile County Public School Code of Conduct, "disciplinary action will be taken to enforce compliance with policy." Furthermore, "students may be suspended for violation of the local school uniform dress code." It's warning that Dailey said has given for months, and now it's reality.
Pierce said the goal is not to take the students out of school, but rather teach them a life lesson.
"We want to keep the kids in school too, but part of our educating them is also helping them learn responsibility. And they need to learn that at home from their parents, from their guardians. They need to also learn it at school. They need to be responsible," said Pierce.
Pierce also said students and parents have access to information about school uniforms year-round. It can be found in their handbook or online.
As for the lawsuit against the MCPSS by the SPLC, it's still pending in federal court.
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