School uniform policy forces student to transfer schools

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX - A Valley mom says her son's strict school uniform policy priced them right off campus.

Some are calling out these out of control dress codes.

3 On Your Side looked into the issue and found two uniforms that may look alike, but one of them is triple the price of the other.

"There's nothing really different other than the logo which costs virtually nothing to get put on a shirt," Gwen Aiken said.

Gwen's son, Malik, was supposed to wear the more expensive one to Challenge Charter School this year, but about a week into the semester, she received a call saying her first-grader's outfit violated school uniform policy.

"I said what's wrong with what he's wearing?" she said. "It was the same thing he was wearing last year I even bought plenty ahead of time so we could get the summer sales in you know."

Turns out, this fall Challenge began implementing a new uniform policy.

The policy requires students to wear the exact same items, which can only be bought at a store called Dennis in Phoenix.

According to Dennis's website, a polo shirt with a logo and a pair of pants costs about $40.

Gwen, who is a single working mother, said she can find an almost identical outfit for $30 less.

"I was just completely enraged, I was like, I can't afford that, did you see the cost of the uniforms. I said it's expensive," Gwen said.

Gwen said that she would have set money aside had she known ahead of time about the policy change, but the school says, she was notified well in advance.

"We probably sent 20, 30 informational packets detailing the change talking about upcoming sales and incentives," Principal Wendy Miller said.

Principal Miller said a stricter uniform policy is actually what the majority of parents wanted, because they were fed up with guessing which clothes were in compliance. Now, Miller said, there's no question.?

And while teachers used to spend a lot of time enforcing that uniform policy, Miller said they are freed up for more time teaching.

Challenge Charter says it selected Dennis because its clothes are made in the USA.

The store also returns 3% of sales to the school.

"We've already given that back to our kids in credit vouchers that they can go and spend on school uniforms," Miller said.

"Everybody loves the school and yeah, we like to help when we can, but we should be forced to choose between our family's well-being and educational value, nobody should be backed up against the wall.," Gwen said.

Gwen did accept the $50 voucher Challenge Charter offered parents, but she never used it, she didn't need to.

Gwen said she had no choice but to enroll Malik in another school where uniforms were more affordable.

"Give a parent more options as far as price and vendors are concerned. Don't just select for them and tell them what they can and can't afford," Gwen said.

"We are a school of choice, and parents have chosen us partly because we are a uniform school and partly because of what we can offer for their kids and we're not letting them down." Principal Miller said.