Sophie B. Wright criticized for not helping homeless students with uniforms, but did school know?

WWL-TV obtained documents showing Sophie B. Wright Charter School was twice put on notice for keeping two homeless students out of school because of their uniform.

NEW ORLEANS --  It all began in February when the parent of two students began her fight with the Institute for Academic Excellence, the charter which runs Sophie B. Wright High School according to the breach notice sent by the Louisiana State Department in May.

The parent who was not identified says her two kids were kept out of classes because the family couldn't afford uniforms.

The issue then escalated to the Louisiana Department of Education. On two separate occasions, the state told the school to get uniforms for the students.  By the time they got their clothes, the two students had missed a month of classes.

The letter also revealed the students were actually considered homeless by federal law, and that law requires uniforms be provided. 

We contacted the school, but the principal said she could not grant an interview.  However she told Eyewitness News the students were new, and the school did not intially know the students were homeless, it's just not school policy to ask. 

The President of the Institute of Excellence issued a statement saying, "The school is still conducting it's own investigation into this matter.  We have determined that when the students originally enrolled in school, the school was not informed that they qualified as homeless under federal law.  At that time, the parent was informed of the school's uniform requirements.  At no time after learning that the students qualified as homeless did the school require them to wear uniforms."

Some parents we met near the school in Uptown are still just learning of the news.  Katherine, a mother of two, told us uniforms are more expensive than some may realize.

"If you have more than two kids, I mean you want your kids to have at least 5 pieces, you know, that's pretty pricey,"  she said.

At Poree's Embroidery and Unform Store, owner Malcolm Poree says he works with families in need all the time.

"There's different programs, even the schools themselves, they'll come to me and they'll buy vouchers to give to their needy parents," Poree said.

But parents like Katherine can't help but wonder was this really all handled correctly from the start?

"It devastates me as a parent because you know that's like hindering a person from getting a hand up," she said.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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