NEWARK, NJ (WCMH) — A principal in New Jersey found a practical way to end some vicious bullying.
He discovered students coming to school in unwashed clothes were being harassed both in person and online.
But now, thanks to his work and generous donations, kids who don’t have laundry services at home can take care of cleaning up right at school.
Students at West Side High School are picking up a new skill this year, a life skill: doing their laundry.
“I’ve seen kids a few kids in the back of the class talk about kids in the front of the class and how they smell and how they clothes looking dirty,” student Nasirr Cameron told WCBS.
Students are limited in what colors they can wear because of a school dress code.
Rising senior Dashawn Latham says he only gets to the laundromat once every two weeks.
“The money – my mother don’t be home she working and I gotta call her and sometimes she don’t get paid,” said Latham.
The barrier is so bad Principal Akbar Cook said kids were missing school with 85 percent of kids missing three to five days of school a month.
“Yes, they was being bullied, and it wasn’t just in the building it was on Snapchat. ‘I’m sitting behind you and take a pic of collar look and I’m all ‘look at this dirty guy,'” Cook told WCBS.
So he spent the last two years securing a $20,000 grant from PSE&G, and getting labor from the Newark School System to turn the old football team locker room into a free, on-campus laundromat with commercial grade machines.
“Five washers, five dryers. I got a slop sink right here, these are the washers,” said Cook.
The principal hopes to wash away the vicious cycle of bullying.