Lawmaker proposes code of conduct for parents at schools across Tennessee

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Should parents have rules about how they look and appear when they visit their child’s school? One Memphis lawmaker thinks so. He’s writing a proposed state bill to take on the issue.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson wants to require Tennessee school districts to come up with codes of conduct for parents and visitors at schools, including a dress code.

Parkinson said the idea came about after complaints by other parents of inappropriate clothing and intoxication of adults at schools. While he said the idea is getting a wide range of support, not all parents are on board.

“This came from a constituent who was tired of being tired,” Rep. Parkinson said. “(There’s been other reports of a parent who) had lingerie and there was some body parts exposed because of the size of the lingerie.”

That’s why Tuesday on a video call in Nashville, Parkinson said he’s moving forward with proposed state legislation, to crack down on parents’ attire and appearance when they, or visitors, go to schools.

“There’s been other stories of individuals coming into the building that smell like drugs,” Rep. Parkinson said.

The proposal would require every Tennessee school district write a code of conduct, which would include a dress code.

“We feel that the institution of education should be respected and people that come to that institution should be respectable,” Rep. Parkinson said.

“I think that’s the least thing people should be thinking, worried about,” parent Tamika Martin said.

Parents involved with Memphis Lift, an advocacy organization in low-performing areas, felt differently about the idea and believed it’s misguided.

“They already have a burden about not feeling comfortable, going to schools, not feeling welcoming already,” parent Sabrina Mayfield said.

“Our state representatives, there are far more issues, more severe issues that they could be tackling, writing bills for,” said parent Dianechia Fields.

Rep. Parkinson said the proposal should be completed in the next couple of weeks. He’s hopeful it can be up for a full vote by July 1. If passed, it would likely mean the codes of conduct would be in place next school year statewide.

Local 24 News received the following statementt from Shelby County Schools: 

It is the goal of Shelby County Schools to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students and families.  We work continuously to improve parent access and increase family engagement in our schools, and we certainly do not want clothing ever to be a barrier.  The Student-Parent handbook clearly prohibits clothing that denotes affiliation or membership with any criminal gangs while on school grounds or at SCS events.  Parents or campus visitors seeking to learn more about SCS Code of Conduct or dress code policies can find additional information in our Student-Parent Handbook.

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