Principal Akbar Cook of West Side High School

A New Jersey high school principal came up with an innovative idea to combat bullying when low income students come to school wearing dirty clothes.

Principal Akbar Cook of Newark’s West Side High School installed a laundry room in the school for students whose mothers can’t afford to buy a washer and dryer.

Cook noticed a small percentage of students were cutting class every day and he did some investigating to find out why.

He discovered the students were being bullied for wearing dirty clothes to school, and bullies were posting photos of them wearing dirty clothes on social media.

“They were choosing to stay home rather than coming to school to be bullied or ridiculed,” Cook told “We didn’t know until we started making calls.”

After brainstorming with other faculty members, Cook reached out to PSE&G, and secured $20,000 to install five washers and five dryers in a converted football locker room.

After local news outlets reported the story, the school received donations of detergent and fabric softener.

Cook also provided some students with new clothing.

“I refuse to let a kid come to school smelling or dirty and I’m sitting on a shirt that says ‘West Side on it,” Cook said.