A Sydney girls school has triggered a wave of anger from parents after it barred dozens of students from attending a final year 10 assembly over “uniform expectations".
Parents are fuming after their daughters were banned from the event at Mackellar Girls School in Manly Vale on Monday due to their acrylic or painted nails which many of the teenagers had had done for their year 10 formal just four days earlier.
“They were told by their teachers that if your nails look natural it is all fine,” Kirstin, a mother of one of the girls, told Yahoo News Australia. But before the ceremony started, “every girl with nail polish or fake nails” was pulled out and put into a classroom to watch The Grinch while the assembly took place.
“The school was then inundated with angry parents so the girls were allowed out of the holding classroom and into the back of the hall to stand and watch and not partake, nor were their names read out or acknowledged,” Kirstin said. “I understand from other parents and my daughter and her friends that it was at least 57 girls.”
In a subsequent letter to the school, the Manly mother slammed the “punishment” as “disgraceful,” saying her 15-year-old daughter had always avoided trouble. “Four years at school, working hard, doing their best, being great human beings was destroyed because they had lovely fingernails,” she wrote.
School claims students were given nail warning
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, the NSW Department of Education says the girls were given a clear warning around the dress code prior to the event.
“We understand some students and parents are upset by the decision of the school however all Mackellar Girls students and parents were given written and verbal advice on the expectations around uniform and behaviour on multiple occasions since the start of the school year,” a spokesperson said. “This included specific advice to students and parents that acrylic nails were not acceptable at school and in particular for the Year 10 assembly.”
Amid reports that dozens of students were excluded from the celebration, the Department of Education claims “around 20 of 239 Year 10 students at the school did not receive their portfolio on stage for this reason, but were in the hall for the assembly.”
Students 'segregated’ as if ‘they didn’t exist’
But another mother argues her daughter was refused entry into the assembly altogether and “segregated” with about 50 other students in two classrooms away from the hall.
“All the girls excluded did not have their names even announced in the assembly,” Rachel told Yahoo News Australia. “It was like they didn’t even exist. A whole year of each student’s achievements was defined by one thing, acrylic clear varnished nails.
“Our kids have worked so hard and spent time in lockdowns away from schools and friends. What does it say about our priorities when children are excluded in a public school due to their fingernails.”
Other parents took to Facebook to share their rage.
“It was really sad to see our daughters treated that way,” wrote one mum. “As if they did not matter.”
“My daughter was part of this, it was just ridiculous,” another said. While someone else claimed that the school “actually segregated them into levels of badness.”
“The least bad were marched into the hall to watch the proceedings,” they wrote. “A nude acrylic got you a seat in the hall, false eyelashes did not.”
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