Cold classrooms create dress code controversy at Upper Darby School

- At afternoon dismissal at Beverly Hills middle school in Upper Darby, the kids were bundled up to face outside temperatures in the teens, with a wind chill even lower.

But 8th grader Onichcah Maynard stayed home on Tuesday.

Why?

“The temperature at school,” said Maynard, from her grandmother’s home in Philadelphia.

“I know it was going to be cold and I didn’t want to go to school. Because we are not allowed to wear our hoodies or jackets in school.”

That’s right. Onichcah told FOX 29’s Bruce Gordon, and several other students confirmed, that the heat at Beverly Hills isn’t working properly and hasn’t worked consistently for some time.

Onichcah says when temperatures plummeted just before the holiday break in late December, chilly students were told they could not wear coats or hoodies inside the building.

“They let us wear hoodies some days, but if the teacher told us to take it off, we actually have to take it off,” Onichcah told Gordon. “So some kids were told to take off their hoodies, and if they didn’t, they were sent to a place called the D-Cen or discipline center where you get, like, a detention.”

After several requests for comment and explanation, the Upper Darby school district released a statement Tuesday afternoon acknowledging that “a limited number of classrooms were colder than others” because of malfunctioning motors in their venting systems. The district did not specifically address FOX 29’s questions about the coat and hoodie policy prior to the break, except to say “students were permitted to wear coats today in the building if they felt it necessary.”

 “I can’t just not go to school. That’s not an option,” Onichcah said of the less-than-ideal conditions.

In the written statement, the district says it is working to repair or replace the malfunctioning heaters, but did not say when the work would be finished.

Onichcah’s grandmother says an efficient heating system ought to be a given, even in a nearly 90-year-old building.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” says Tammy Reeves. “You can’t learn under those conditions.”

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