Waterbury Schools Revoke More than 150 Dress Code Suspensions

More than 150 students at Waterbury’s Wilby High School missed a day of class for violating the dress code, but now the school district is removing those suspensions from their records.

“They decided to suspend everyone that was not in the dress code,” Wilby student Jessica Rivera said.

Four of Rivera’s friends were suspended as part of the dress code enforcement sweep, she said.

“They were surprised, some of them were mad, because there’s only two months left, so why would they worry about that now?” Rivera said.

The 1,086 students were warned last week about the dress code crackdown.

“We were left in the dark, we had no knowledge” said Robert Brenker, the Waterbury Public Schools’ interim chief operating officer.

While the district officials support dress code enforcement, Brenker said Wilby administrators did not follow the proper protocol of progressively disciplining students.

“Each one of those 156 should have had a review based on their individual record,” Brenker said.

Some of the students should only have received a written warning or an afterschool detention. District police calls for a suspension only after a fourth dress code violation.

“All the suspensions have been revoked for the 156,” Brenker said of the district’s decision after a parent notified them Monday about the mass suspension.

The Waterbury schools dress code prohibits high school students from wearing hats, caps and hoodies.

“It teaches them how to be professional to a degree,” parent Lygia Rinaldi said.

But Rinaldi does not like how Wilby High School is trying to enforce the dress code.

“I think suspension is a little much for dress code,” she said, “c’mon for clothes, what if people can’t afford it.”

NBC Connecticut reached out to the Wilby High School Principal Michele Buerkle for comment, but she did not respond to our email.

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