Graduation dress code changes are coming to St. Charles Parish Public Schools after the story of what happened at Hahnville High School’s May 19 graduation went viral via social media and captured the attention of many national media outlets.
Stevie Crovetto, director of public information for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, said the situation has been followed-up on by the school district and decisions on specific dress code changes will be hammered out after meetings with various stakeholder groups including students, parents and employees.
“When we have an opportunity to make improvements to current policies, procedures, guidelines, practices, etc., we act on it and as such, will be revising the graduation dress code,” she said. “We appreciate this being brought to our attention so we can continue our work towards more inclusive and equitable practices.”
Media outlets such as the Washington Post and CNN ran with the local story of a supposed dress code violation at the HHS graduation last month and the educator who saved the day – or in this case – the graduation.
John Butler, a HHS paraeducator, was attending the school’s graduation as a parent – his daughter Jaelyn was set to graduate that night.
Daverius Peters, a member of HHS’ class of 2021, was attending the ceremony as a graduate, but was barred from entering the building when a school representative insisted that his shoes did not adhere to the dress code.
“I was waiting outside the facility for my wife and my other daughter to show up,” Butler said of when Peters ran over to him and explained the shoe situation. “He found me and looked very concerned he said, ‘Mr. John, they won’t let me graduate and receive my diploma.’”
Butler said his initial reaction was confusion.
“I was just confused,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure he had the right information.”
After Butler walked over to the door with Peters and talked to the school representative, Peters was still denied entry.
“She was adamant that he couldn’t wear the shoes,” Butler said. “At that moment it was a no brainer to take the shoes off my feet. He was happy to wear them.”
The fit wasn’t perfect. Butler wears a size 11 and Peters wears a size 9, but the shoe sharing gesture allowed Peters entry into his graduation.
“I walked around the whole graduate barefoot,” Butler said. “I was getting quite a few looks. My wife showed up after it happened and as we were going to our seats she looked at my feet and asked where my shoes were.”
Butler said he posted a photo of him in his socks and Peters in his shoes on his private Facebook page just for his friends to see.
“I was originally posting it because it was a feel-good story just for people on my friends list, but somebody screenshotted it and shared it,” he said. “I made it public after so many people had screenshotted it.”
Butler said he held onto Peters’ shoes until after the ceremony.
“His family was already seated,” Butler said. “We met up at the end, so we swapped shoes then. It means a lot to me that he saw me and he felt like he had a good shot at accomplishing what he needed. I was happy I was able to build that rapport with him. We just need to do better as a parish to support our young people. I’m for what is right.”