School Says No Skele-Toes Shoes Allowed

A couple weeks back Louisiana school Vermilion Parish set before it’s school board an important question concerning kids’ footwear — should toe shoes (Fila Skele-toes apparently being the primary culprit) be allowed in schools?

A local Vermilio…

A couple weeks back Louisiana school Vermilion Parish set before it’s school board an important question concerning kids’ footwear — should toe shoes (Fila Skele-toes apparently being the primary culprit) be allowed in schools?

A local Vermilion, LA. newspaper reported the following regarding the potential ban:

The Vermilion Parish School Board is expected to include Skele-Toe shoes as a type of shoe not to be worn in area public schools. The board will vote on the shoe at Thursday’s 6 p.m. school board meeting.

The issue would have been decided on June 22, 2012 (At the time of this publishing, I’ve yet to confirm the decision as it doesn’t seem the minutes to this meeting have been published).

A schoolwide ban on toe shoes at Vermilion Parish would affect some eleven elementary schools, three middle schools, and five high schools. That’s a lot of kids forbidden from wearing Fila, Skele-toes, Vibram FiveFingers, etc.*

Apparently, the issue in question regarding toe shoes is safety. More (emphasis added):

Brad Prudomme, supervisor for child welfare for the school board, brought up the issue of the Skele-Toe shoes to the school board during a committee meeting this past Monday.

Prudomme said this shoe is becoming more and more popular with students wearing them to school. Recently, Vermilion principals voted against Skele-Toe shoes.

Prudomme explained to the board that the shoes, which look like a rubber foot, are becoming a problem in schools and principals are concerned with the safety issue of the shoe. He showed a picture of the shoe to the board members.

Okay, I’ve held out long enough — on the face, this seems a bit ridiculous. Without knowing about Vermilion Parish Schools’ dress code, I think it’s fairly “safe” to say that the safety concerns around wearing toe shoes are no greater than wearing regular shoes, sneakers, or sandals. If you can run a marathon in the shoes, powerlift hundreds of pounds in them, or hike all over the world in them, well, I think it’s safe to say that they’re protective enough.

If it’s a dress code issue, well, that’s another story.

And really, my hunch is that this is more about some higher-ups taking issue with shoes that are different, and in being different, can be distracting. But is that really a good reason to ban them? I don’t think so.

Any teachers out there have an opinion on this? Let’s hear it!

Source: Vermilion Today

* It’s funny that toe shoes have gotten so popular that there are numerous brands available today.

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

37 replies on “School Says No Skele-Toes Shoes Allowed”

This is only okay if it’s some kind of trade school where they require steel toes and closed heels.
Doesn’t look like that’s the case, though.
If you allow flip-flops, you can’t outlaw toe shoes. They’re equally problematic.

My daughter (2nd grade) wears hers to school along with a teacher or two and a couple more kids. Fortunately I think that we’re open minded enough that it won’t be an issue here at our school district.

As a long-time wearer of toe shoes and a fan of your site, I would say the risk of a broken or injured toe is probably slightly higher in toe shoes than regular shoes. Not necessarily from dropping something on them – in that case I think the risks are about the same – but from catching a toe on something while running or climbing and having it yanked separately from the other toes. This isn’t likely to happen in a traditional “closed-toed” shoe, but has happened to me multiple times in my Vibrams.

Now, if they wanted to ban Skeletoes because they’re a shameless knock-off, I’d be OK with that. 🙂

Really? How asinine can you get? If all the issues in education today from equality, layoffs, poor pay, incompetent administrators, and children generally being ill-equipped for the future, someone is going to take an uneducated stand on footwear? If it’s a dress code thing, okay then. But they specifically sited issues with health and safety. Anyone else see the irony in an educator doing something based on a lack of education?

My High School wouldn’t allow us to wear untucked T-shirts,
so I strongly suspect you are right about the higher ups just having issues with something they deem too “informal” or whatever- my HS also banned flip-flops,
and might very well consider this type of ban, too.

It’s lame, but the reluctance to break from tradition is one of the many reasons I’m glad I moved away from Alabama.

If you follow the link to their own website, apparently they are a uniform dress code school. In the dress code itself, it states
D. Shoes – Flip-flops, slippers, thongs, backless shoes, and beach shoes are not permitted. Shoes requiring laces must have the laces, and they must be kept tied. Any other shoes deemed unsafe by the administration are also prohibited. Shoes are required to have a full back.

If it were a school like our public schools that allow for sandals and flip flops, then it would be ridiculous, but they seem pretty strict on the dress code all around. I am all for FiveFingers, as I have worn them for about five years or so, but it seems par for the course at this school to not allow them.

Same “issues” they had with Croc’s a few years back. Many school districts banned them because they were distracting. I personally say, let the kids wear what they want to wear.

haha, i think this school is in for a tough time, I can see all those young VFF enthusiasts getting really angry and start ONLY wearing toe shoes as a protest, I know I would

You have to remember, this is Louisiana. They probably banned toe shoes because the Bible doesn’t mention them.

It is a dress code issue:

But it sounds altogether pretty unreasonable to me. “Flip-flops, slippers, thongs, backless shoes, and beach shoes are not permitted. Shoes requiring laces must have the laces, and they must be kept tied. Any other shoes deemed unsafe by the administration are also prohibited. Shoes are required to have a full back.”

Safety that makes my laugh. If you allow flip flops then this is nothing you have something all the way around your foot. I think they are just hating

Can’t say that I am surprised as schools seem to be acting in loco parentis and that has been going on for some time. This “great” organization knows better what to do. Uh-huh. I clean residential and take care of a church as my job and wear VFF every day. In fact I used to wear sandals in the summer (probably tripped more with those). No safety problems here (although I have sacrificial sneakers to deal with toilet overflows and the like). I explain that sneakers offer no more protection and if you drop something heavy enough, even steel toe boots won’t help. People don’t like something different and the kids want to be different and be their own person and the more you say “no” the more they’ll do it. I see things like this brought up in school when they really need to address actually educating kids.
Gads this irritates me! Rant off, AndyB, NH.

this parish is not an institute of learning, its an institute of fashion statements, popularity, and above all dictatorship. childrens education, health, and well-being will always come second. stupid people.

Now I see the dress code requirements and if a parent agreed to that all they can do is argue their case with administrators. Still, not a safety issue in practical terms.
Also, I am not a southerner (a proud New Englander from NH, thank you!) but I don’t appreciate the implication that because it is southern it is close minded or backwards. Take a look at hair brained practices in “enlightened” California. My niece got in trouble several years ago because she had two different socks on (anyone remember “Punky Brewster?”). In that case it was about a new administrator and her power. I suspect this is the same “I’m right, you’re wrong and that’s the end of it” sort of thing. I’m glad I’m not in school anymore.
Going feet first! AndyB, NH.

I am a 5th grade teacher and have worn my vibrams on multiple occasions (causal friday) and have never had anyone complain about them nor tell me i could no longer wear them. I think this is ridiculous but kinda funny at the same time.

I have been wearing these for several years and while I have broke several toes–ouch (because of martial arts) I have never had a toe injury due to these shoes and I do wear them daily. I will say I have more a a sure footing with these than any other shoe and thus have had less slips, falls, etc (especially while playing in the creek and the river and going up and down hills). I have picked up a few sticks between my toes, but that far out ways the other issues, IMO.

Personal choice, but shouldn’t be determined by a school administrator for sure!

I think the safety claims are a red herring. No shoes are safe, unless they’re heavy steel-capped boots, perhaps.

Unless the school has school uniforms (in which case students likely wouldn’t be wearing toe shoes to school to begin with), the dress code bit is a red herring, too.

More likely than not, this just yet another example of old geezers being afraid of anything that’s different, and doing their best to make school a hostile environment for kids so that they won’t even THINK about maybe possibly, y’know, enjoying learning.

Next thing you know, they’ll also ban that newly fangled Rock And/Or Roll music. But maybe they should just ban students outright; that way, their school would finally be free of all these scary new things.

My daughter’s middle school does require “uniforms,” however, she wears her Five Fingers to school, cross country practice/meets and even basketball practice. In fact, I have seen several kids in her school and other schools wearing them. The teachers in this area seem to encourage the kids to be creative and think for themselves. I feel very fortunate to live in an area that embraces individuality…. I think I would suffocate if I lived in Vermilion Parish.

I’m not a fan of toe shoes (just not comfortable for me) but the safety issue seems a reach. Even steel-toe boots are not always as safe as people think. Motorcyclists wearing them who have had their foot run over by a car while stopped at a red light have to get their toes amputated because the steel toe is smashed flat. With regular boots bones are broken but at least get to heal because the shoe can be removed from the foot.

This is pretty much just the smallest taste of what us complete barefooters deal with all the time, everywhere.

“If you can run a marathon in the shoes, powerlift hundreds of pounds in them, or hike all over the world in them, well, I think it’s safe to say that they’re protective enough.”

You can actually do all of those things barefoot…

At my school, we’re allowed to werar vibrams and other shoes of the type, just not during gym because they aren’t “Safe”.

I’m not in favor of dress codes… Parents need to become parents and monitor what our children wear making sure that it is safe and appropriate for school and outside of school! As for toe shoes being “unsafe”… They offer no less protection than any of the lighter “gym” shoes on the market. I wear nothing but VFF’s for many years now and my kids for almost 3 years. None of us has ever been hurt in them and we do some extreme activities…. Yes, you can “catch” a toe but I highly doubt you will break it. Heck, I’m on day 4 of using my thicker sole Trek’s as a splint of sorts for a broken toe. Once it’s in the pocket, it is like a little splint. No, the injury occured in my natural and prefered form. BARE 😉

yea, people need to realize that shoes aren’t a magically safety barrier…

hell, one guy had his toes chopped off while wearing steel toed boots when something fell on them causing it to bend and chop ’em off!

even though i hate skeletoes, it’s stupid to say they aren’t protective, no idea why people think they aren’t protective the moment you separate the toes…

something heavy drops on your foot, it’s going to hurt, bad

I personally wear my vibrams to my high school everyday. And some others wear them. Schools shouldn’t be that strict and they are making excuses. I just wore my vibrams to a school funded 5k race. Only one there with minimalist shoes!

I’m a teacher, and it’s never come up at my school, but there would be some restrictions. Metal shops, or kitchens would probably be out, regular shoes don’t offer much more protection, but when covering our butts any little bit will do.

That being said a friend of mine is a teacher and she wears hers to school. I think it’s silly. Dress code is one thing (when I was in school if your black shoes had coloured laces or stitching you’d be suspended), but safety, not a case.

This is the same mistake closed minded people always make. Allow the shoes and they will become commonplace and not a distraction. Talk about banning them and it becomes a big distraction. Idiots.

I had a high school teacher who tried to get my Vibes banned 2 years ago, I made a forum post or I made a comment about it, it was a while ago, I basically had to go to the school board and appeal it. Since my school allowed Sandals and the dress code was written so damn loosely I won without much struggle and failed the class with that teacher. But the sad fact is schools can ban anything they want regardless of how the community feels.

i can’t wear mine in places at the hospital I work at in case a sharp gets dropped. In non patient care areas I can get away with it, but never in the patient care areas.

Maybe some of the newer models, but the older stuff with open tops or thin stretch fabric, nope.

Although I do not agree with the decision from a safety standpoint, it seems it is a private school with a dress code. By enrolling your child, you are succumbing to whatever rules they deem appropriate. I am sure it has more to do with conformity than safety. I think that they are quick to throw out safety as a reason for just about everything because most people will not argue when someone claims they are concerned with student safety.

“But it’s for the good of the children” and “If it only saves one child…” Which translate to it’s a bad law/rule and we can’t come up with an honest justification for it. I see those brought up with all sorts of laws and rules. Anyway…
I am baffled as to why anyone would go to all the effort to get shoes banned (in the case of the commenter with the vibe-o-phobic teacher). I don’t like all sorts of things but that just means I don’t wear them. I don’t try to make it a capital crime. Sounds like a power thing.

As a P.E. teacher I have been wearing my 5 fingers for just over two years now to work and the most I’ve had to deal with is some ribbing from my principal who calls them my frog feet. Beyond that my students don’t even notice these days or will ask where I got them so that they can get a pair too. So far this last school year I’ve seen a few students start wearing them and it would seem the trend is only gaining ground here.
I can just about guarantee this is not a safety issue as it is more an issue that some one on the board dislikes the appearance of them and just made it easier by banning them outright. If the parents were to ban together and voice their displeasure over this new policy I can tell you it’d be lifted plain and simple.

A bit late on the uptake, but maybe I should e-mail the school on safety?

I work in a manufactory and my Bormio’s have passed safety inspection(they were understated enough that it actually took almost a whole day before people realized what I was wearing and what gave me away was leaving footprints instead of bootprints!). True, we aren’t a steel toed required plant(well at least not in any of the areas I work in).

However, I do know a number of VFF’s wouldn’t pass. Any of them without a full upper like the classics, sprints, etc. They also feel more comfortable about ‘unusually designed’ shoes when they are made of leathers. They trust leather, not so much the synthetic fabrics. So they may say no to a non-leather toe shoe since they now know leather ones exist. They also don’t like shoes too low cut, so even the Trek LS might make them iffy.

Sadly it is clear Vibram didn’t design the Bormio for working in a manufactory(not that I thought they did). After only five months they are in a sorry shape. The rubbers soles are sliced up and completely missing in places and I got some visible scars on the uppers from blades and such dropping on them or edged metal running across the top of my foot. They have been Goo’ed several times. Still they have protected my feet admirably!

I have had far less foot injuries since I have been wearing them than with my old Dr. Scholls*! Plus the Bormios lasted nearly twice as long(and other than the missing rubber are in far better shape even now), though for the price point I wish they would have lasted longer! Well the shoe repair shop might be able to fix the missing big toe rubber(which is what is keeping me from wearing them, that is really uncomfortable!). I can hope!

*I attribute this to additional ground feel than anything. I am actually ‘glancing off’ the hazards due to mid-stride adjustments rather than just ‘stomping’ on them flat footed like in my heavier hard soled shoes.

I love running in my fivefingers and wearing them. I just bought a pair for my eight year old daughter who was thrilled to wear them until she went to gym class where her phys.ed. teacher said “No way! You can’t wear those in gym class!” My daughter is crushed. I’m looking for literature to send the teacher to see if I can change her mind. Its a public school, so this isn’t a dress code issue. Any suggestions?

@Lili – The first thing to do would be to find out WHY they aren’t allowed. It is hard to argue against someone if you have no idea why they aren’t allowing them. Basically just try inquiring into the reasons behind it. If they say safety is the issue inquire into what exact safety issues they have with them. Such issues may be able to be addressed. Perhaps they have heard of people injuring themselves while using such shoes to run. You can then counter with any number of articles on this site to point out that that happens when one transitions too fast, etc.

You can also try pointing out that they are non-marking. I doubt that is the issue but maybe they think the shoes would mark up the court.

I don’t like these people spoke to the super attendant Jerome P.O. While I was in class (he was a guest speaker. He said the had gotten banded because of a bunch of Pre-k had gotten injured in them running heal toe…. that is the problem of the parent not learning about how to run the proper way and teach the children how to run properly. Now I am an eleventh grader that have to where Neon green inov8s because most of the new merells that have just been released are less minimal than these.

This is nothing more than the dinosaurs that run our schools being upset that the kids are wearing something that they don’t wear. The dinosaurs are miserable so they have to make everyone else miserable too.

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