The Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago has seriously cracked down on their policies for students. Strict rules include tucked-in shirts, having only naturally colored hair and having an escort with you in the hallways. One rule that has proved to be the most controversial is limited bathroom breaks. An anonymous teacher and student with the inside scoop from one of the Noble campuses divulged all of this information and more to NPR Illinois.
When students have to use the facilities during class, they must wait for someone to escort them. “We have (bathroom) escorts, and they rarely come,” the student wrote. If they decide they can’t wait and leave the class unattended, they will be punished using a demerit system. A certain number of demerits acquired can lead to hours of detention time.
Since NPR Illinois’ report came out, the issue has attracted a lot of attention in the media. Not only is the strict bathroom policy an issue for all students, the main issue causing a stir is in regards to young women. During their menstrual cycle, women need to use the washroom frequently to change their sanitary products. Not changing them regularly can lead to leaks, not to mention bacterial infections. Toxic Shock Syndrome, in particular, can be deadly, Dr. Paul Sax said to Time. Women are at risk of this if they leave their tampons in for too long, creating bacteria build up.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, Constance Jones Brewer, president of the Noble Network of Charter Schools attempted to shoot down the claims, “Let me be clear: Noble absolutely accommodates our students during menstruation, including bathroom trips whenever the student needs one,” Brewer said. “This is the same accommodation as high schools everywhere, and I would tolerate nothing less from my organization. We love our students and it is our sacred responsibility to ensure their health and safety. We also know that stains are still not 100% preventable for factors that are private to each student, but when they happen, our schools provide supportive solutions as quickly as possible.”
The anonymous teacher told NRP Illinois about what kind of solutions some campuses offer in the event a female student has not made it to the washroom in time. The teacher said faculty has accommodated young ladies by letting them break the schools’ strict dress code only in the event they’ve stained their pants. They will allow them to tie school sweaters around their waist to cover up any leakage. Administrators then have to notify all staff as to who the student is so that they will not receive demerits for disobeying the dress code.
The anonymous student, not surprisingly, said this isn’t much of a solution. “Who wants to walk around knowing there’s blood on them? It can still stain the seats. They just need to be more understanding,” they wrote.
The backlash about these policies on social media has made national news. Many are saying these strict rules violate child safety regulations along with civil rights. Others say that having young girls walk around school with sweaters tied around their waist is a form of shaming since their peers will ultimately know what’s going on. Students, parents and teachers alike are banding together at board meetings and beyond to address and solve the issue.
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