Morality police patrol for exposed flesh at NYC school

New York Post/November 2, 2014

By Andrea Hay

The morality police aren’t just patrolling Iran or the Islamic State — they’re standing watch at a school in Brooklyn.

Female students at ­Yeshiva of Flatbush are outraged that two monitors were hired this school year to patrol hallways for exposed collarbones and calves.

The modesty crackdown comes as the school enforces a new, stricter dress code, including longer skirts.

“We’re walking in and we’re being scrutinized every morning,” said 16-year-old senior Melissa Duchan. “We can’t just walk in the halls because everyone’s looking at us and judging us every second for our clothing. Obviously, it’s degrading.”

“They’re overly harsh,” agreed senior classmate Jaclyn Klein, 17. “They scream at you. They bring down your confidence. One time, I got pushed into a corner by this one lady who stood in the front . . . and she said, ‘You better go change your skirt right now.’ ”

Two mothers called the inspections by the modern Orthodox day school “horrible.”

Duchan wrote a desperate letter to her school in September, published on the Jewish news site JTA, begging administrators to “stop the madness” and describing the skirt-chasers as “predatory” who make female students “feel hunted.”

Three days after her plea went viral, officials met with her. “They couldn’t really discipline me because I didn’t do anything that was against school rules,” Duchan told The Post. “They just talked to me, and nothing’s really changed.”

Aside from the long skirts, the school mandates that girls have no more than one earring per lobe, wear loose-fitting and conservatively colored clothing, cover their collarbones, wear shoes that have backs, and not wear tight shirts, or V-necks and “cap” sleeves.

The only time the girls can ditch their long skirts is when they’re away from the boys, in separate gym classes. But they’re required to put on a wraparound skirt to use the bathroom, because it’s across the hall and they might encounter boys in the hallway.

Boys are far less limited: They must wear yarmulkes, traditional tzizit (strings hanging from the waist), shoes and socks, conservatively colored pants, collared shirts and be clean-shaven.

Students in violation of the dress code are usually sent home to change, or forced to wear a school-supplied outfit. Either way, they must use one of six annual “sign-outs,” where students are permitted to miss school for sickness or appointments.

Duchan said that in her private meeting with school officials, she was told the two female fashion cops are not Jews. “They want to make it not like a Jewish thing,” she said. “They just want you to follow the rules of the school, so they specifically hired non-Jewish people.”

Last May, the school officials tried to drum up the dress code enforcement themselves but were met with hostility, recalled Duchan, who was insulted by a scolding. “[The administrator] said . . . ‘You’re a smart girl, why do you dress like that?’

“They put a stop to that because parents complained. They were acting like it reflects on your self-worth — what length skirt you wear!”

“It’s terrible,” fumed a mother who wouldn’t give her name in fear of yeshiva backlash. “We’re spending this money to send them to the schools … the rules are just wrong.”

Seth Linfield, the executive director of the 2,100-student school on Avenue J in Midwood, where tuition is upwards of $34,000 a year, refused to comment.

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