In a Title IX complaint, shared exclusively with WCNC, the family details statements by the dean of students who they believe traumatized their middle school daughter.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina A Charlotte the family is to accuse Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools of discrimination against female students regarding violations of the dress code.
In a Title IX ComplaintExclusively shared with WCNC Charlotte, the family details statements by the Dean of Students at Bailey Middle School, to Cornelius, who they believe traumatized their middle school daughter.
“We believe that there have been multiple Title IX violations and that female students are being discriminated against on the basis of gender at BMS. This conduct is unacceptable and under Title IX, the District has a duty to address and prevent new cases,” the family said. in the complaint.
A Title IX complaint allows students to file allegations of gender discrimination, including complaints of sexual harassment or sexual violence.
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When you ask Josie Mell, the plaintiff, about her college at Cornelius, you can tell she enjoys it.
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“There are a lot of clubs, and a lot of really fun options and the core curriculum teachers are really nice,” said Josie Mell.
But after the incident at Bailey Middle School on August 31, her feelings changed dramatically.
Well, we get lectures, pretty much every day about something over lunch,” Josie Mell said. “So that morning we were expecting to have a conference.
Their Dean of Students, Lydia Woodbury, leads the talks.
“Normally she has this chant about the seven habits of highly effective teenagers,” she said. “So we expected her to blackmail us. And when we got there, she started a dress code lecture.”
In the complaint, it is said that Woodbury said there was a new dress standard for girls at school.
“She mentioned that we had to bend over in front of our mirror every morning and stretch in front of our mirror every morning to make sure we were following the dress code,” Mell said. “And then Mrs. Woodbury made us sing “bust, belly, button” continuously for about two minutes.
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CMS told WCNC Charlotte that the dean of students said the words; however, no chanting of these words was forcibly led or encouraged.
In an email, the authenticity of which has been confirmed by CMS, from Bailey Middle School principal Chad Thomas, the subject of dress codes was prompted by requests from students.
Ms. Woodbury spoke about it, which inadvertently led to the students singing,” Thomas said in the email sent to community members requesting information about the August 31 events.
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Thomas added that “she regularly asks students to recite seven habits and other things. I think this is an incident that just escaped her.
He said no one had been singled out for their gender and apologized.
Who hasn’t had an apology? The Mel family.
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“I haven’t spoken to anyone at school about leadership,” Deborah Mel said. “I guess they would like that to go away. However, they still target girls for the dress code.”
The Mell family accused the district of changing the dress code online after the incident. Specifically to change the gender-specific language.
They provided WCNC Charlotte with a document titled Student Dress Code which included the name of the school.
WCNC Charlotte also found the document by Google by searching for “Bailey Middle School Dress Code”. It was the first result to show oneself.
This document includes a line saying, “Shirts exposing the midriff, being excessively tight, see-through, low-cut, or showing bra straps should not be worn.”
Asked about any changes to the dress code after August 31, CMS replied, “Dress code has not been changed.”
The district sent an email of what they say is Bailey Middle School’s most recent dress codesent to parents in The Bronco Times, a newsletter distributed by Thomas.
Although WCNC Charlotte found another variant of the dress codedistinct from that provided by the Mells and CMS, which is currently active on the home page of the school website.
Each document had different dates in its URL indicating the 2014-2015 school year, the 2019-20 school year, and the 2022-23 school.
In total, the school has at least three dress code documents live on the Internet.
“We’ve adjusted our dress code this year to be a bit more flexible with current trends in student attire,” Thomas said in his email to concerned community members.
“They haven’t really made any changes other than quietly covering their tracks, which just tells me that they know there’s a problem,” Howard Mell said.
CMS confirmed to WCNC Charlotte on Friday that neither the principal nor the superintendent of learning in the area had contacted the Mell family.
The Mell family said they heard from someone in the district, the Title IX coordinator, to start the process of investigating their allegations of discrimination against female students.
“Not only was this chant humiliating and the instruction to bend over a mirror every morning extremely off-putting, the fact that the dean of students drew such attention to the girls’ bodies and physical attributes continues to concern Josie,” said said the Mell. family allegation in the complaint.
Although the family claims Woodbury did not single out Josie Mell, the schoolgirl felt targeted due to a dress code incident last year.
“Last year she wore a sleeveless shirt, but with really thick fabric on the shoulders until picture day,” Howard Mell said. “And she sort of perked up like, Oh, they’re talking about me.”
“Please be aware that students were not asked to stand or be gender-distinguished for any part of the conversation during lunch,” Thomas said in the email.
A CMS spokesperson said: “Principal Chad Thomas has not received any calls or emails from the Mell family regarding the August 31 cafeteria incident.”
The family says that although CMS denied calling the principal’s office, they spoke to someone, over the phone, at Bailey Middle School’s reception on August 31.
“I immediately called the school, she [Josie] was sitting right next to me,” Howard Mell said.
Howard Mell said he asked Principal Thomas by name.
“She asked who it was and I said, ‘Dr Howard Mell,'” Howard Mell said.
Howard Mell said the person who answered the phone asked what it was about.
“I said it was my daughter Josephine? And she said, ‘Sure, wait,'” he said.
Howard Mell said they were then put on hold.
“I’m sorry. He’s not available for you,” were the words Howard said to the person on the phone.
Howard Mell says he was told he could email Thomas or leave a message.
“I said, let’s find out, let’s go and leave a message,” Howard Mell said. “You know, that’s my phone number. That’s my name.”
Mell said he called back one more time before posting his daughter’s experience, with her permission, on Twitter.
WCNC Charlotte has confirmed the district is aware of Mells’ Twitter post, the principal has addressed the issue via email with community members and the district’s highest authority, the Superintendent of Schools, is aware of the issue. story of Josie Mells.
“It shows that the school really doesn’t think it was a problem,” Howard Mell said. “Actually, which I know because several of my friends and colleagues contacted the school and kind of indicated their feeling that it wasn’t fair. They all got the exact same letter from Chad Thomas.”
WCNC Charlotte asked CMS to provide data on the number of dress code violations at Bailey Middle School, separated by gender.
“We cannot extract dress code data without a public records request and it would take time,” a spokesperson said.
Josie Mell’s parents say they’re not against a dress code, but think there’s a proper way to handle it.
“A lot of kids didn’t seem to realize it was wrong,” Deb Mell said. “While they were talking, as friends were talking, they were really trying to plan how they were going to stretch in the morning to look at each other.”
Josie Mell says she wants to see change at her college.
“He teaches the boys in our school that girls can be treated like objects and we can be treated like we’re there for the boys to look at us,” Josie Mell said.
When WCNC Charlotte asked the family what they needed from those involved, they all replied: an apology.
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