A Newark, N.J., man is demanding answers about what led to several students being kicked out of class at a local charter school this week.
Video uploaded to Facebook shows several Marion P. Thomas Charter High School students hanging out at a public park in their school uniforms after they say they were booted from school over dress code violations. One teen explained he was kicked out simply for having white soles on his shoes.
“Why you ain’t in school?” the man asks. “C’mon bruh, why you ain’t in school?”
“‘Cause I got white on my sneakers,” the teen replies.
Apparently, students must wear all-black sneakers.
It wasn’t just the handful of students at the park who were kicked out, however. Students claim more than half the school was sent home for the alleged violations. Concerned, the man, who describes himself as a youth worker, marched over to the school to confront the staff about their so-called punishment.
In video of the incident, the man is heard questioning school officials about why so many kids were kicked out into the streets for something so arbitrary as not having a belt or all-black sneakers. A front desk receptionist explains the students were told go home and get the items, and then return to school.
“This is crazy. … Get those things from where? What if they don’t have it?” the man asked. “I’m at the park working with kids, and I see like 50 children walk into the park saying they can’t get into school because they don’t have all-black shoes. I have a problem.”
“That’s saying that because they’re poor, you can treat them like this,” he said of the kids, whom he described as “his scholars.” “You will not do this.”
Things quickly escalate as the man repeatedly demands to speak to the principal or someone else in charge. He then criticizes school staff, which is all Black, for willingly kicking African-American students out of class over simple dress code violations.
“Y’all are too calm!” he shouts. “It’s all Black people in here and y’all kick Black kids out into the street. What if one of them gets hurt in the park? It’s homeless people sleeping in there. Why are are all these kids in the street?! You are culpable!”
The man, visibly frustrated, continues asking for who’s in charge of making the dress code policy. That’s when leaders ask him who his scholar is, suggesting he needs to have a child who attends the school in order to make a complaint.
A woman who eventually identifies herself as the principal explains the school sent out e-mails and telephone blasts informing parents and students of the school dress code. Many of the students failed to show up in the proper uniform, however, and were asked to leave and come back properly dressed.
She denied students being “kicked out,” yet the man said their uniform violations were seemingly enough to have to have them removed. The incident comes on the heels of two similar instances where Black students were booted from their respective schools for hairstyle violations.
Marion P. Thomas Charter School didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Watch more in the videos below.