School leaders reinstate student body president after ‘Pajama Day’ snafu

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — The student who helped organize a Pajama Day that forced more than 100 Gastonia high school students to be held in the school gym has been reinstated as school president.

On the last week of school, before holiday break, more than 100 students at Ashbrook High School arrived dressed down in pajamas for what they thought was Pajama Day.

Parents and students from the Gaston County high school said students wearing pajamas were stopped by administrators at the door, escorted to the gym and either urged to change clothes or threatened with suspension.

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In a statement provided by the Gaston County School District, leaders said Pajama Day was never approved.

Christy Champey, whose son is a sophomore at the school, said she was mostly upset that the student body was never properly notified before arriving for the day.

“The teachers were encouraging them, saying they'll get extra credit if they wore pajamas,” she said.

Ashbrook senior and student body president Jared Hernandez helped organize Pajama Day. Hernandez said the school’s principal approached him the day before, urging him to cancel the event and also asked him to notify his peers.

“Students were posting it on social media, like Instagram, Snapchat,” Hernandez said. “There really wasn’t a way I could tell everybody ‘No.’”

The confusion also prompted two students to submit a column to the Gaston Gazette, a local newspaper. One line describing the atmosphere in the auditorium read, "Some of us were scared. Some of us were angry. All of us were confused."

Teresa MacFarlane serves as a parent advocate in the area and said parents and staff contacted her about the incident, the very next day.

“Out of a 1,300 student body, for 200 to show up in pajamas, somebody dropped the ball,” she said.

MacFarlane said she met with the school principal and assistant Monday afternoon and asked them to issue an apology to students and parents and to reinstate Hernandez as student body president.

Hernandez told Channel 9 he was removed from office over the incident. Channel 9 learned that about 1,000 students signed a petition to reinstate him. He was later reinstated.

Statement from Gaston County schools:

"The week before the holiday break, some members of the student council shared information on their social media accounts about wearing pajamas to school as part of a “spirit week.” This resulted in approximately 100-125 students coming to school in pajamas on Wednesday, December 18.

"The ‘spirit week’ activities were not approved by the school administration. The school’s “spirit week” activities are typically associated with homecoming and not a holiday break.

"Pajamas are not acceptable clothing for students to wear to school. The students who wore pajamas were directed to the auditorium and given the option to change into other clothes that they had with them (such as gym clothes), contact a parent to bring clothes to school, or contact a parent to get permission to sign out of school to get clothes from home.

"The students who wore pajamas to school were not counted absent from class and they were given the opportunity to make up any missed assignments.

"Members of the student council who shared on social media about wearing pajamas to school were asked to let people know on their social media that this activity was not approved. It was an effort by the school administration to give the students an opportunity to correct the information that they had shared. Looking back on the situation, the school realizes that an announcement should have been made to all students to clear up the confusion.

"Moving forward, the school administration will work closely with student groups and the club advisers to plan events and activities well enough in advance and communicate clearly about the events and activities.

“Regarding the student body president, specific information cannot be shared with the public because of the school’s obligation to protect the student’s privacy.”

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