Dress Code, Series of Events Lead to Honor Student's Suspension

An outfit at the center of controversy.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A senior at Hickory Ridge High School worries her college future is in jeopardy, and it's all stemming from a shirt she wore.

On Wednesday, Summer wore a green shirt that rests just off the tops of her shoulders and exposes her collarbone.

She says, while she was eating lunch, the principal approached her in the cafeteria, asking if she had a jacket.

Summer did not have a jacket, but a friend offered to loan her one.

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"I pulled it up, put the jacket over it, zipped up the jacket," Summer says.

She says the principal told her she would have to go to the control room to change her clothes.

"I completely understand why a dress code is put into place but I feel like after I put on that jacket it should have been subdued," Summer says.

Summer says she and the principal have had a number of issues during her four years at the school. The tension has gotten so bad that her mother says she recently instructed the school administrators to call her before taking any sort disciplinary action against Summer.

Summer says, when the principal told her to go to the control room, she remained seated.

"They can't take me anywhere unless my mother is called," she says. "So I said 'I apologize, I can't go anywhere with you unless my mom is called."

That's when the situation escalated.

Summer says neither she nor the principal was able to reach her mother. The period ended and Summer accompanied dozens of her friends to the auditorium. Shortly after, she says the principal entered the room and ordered everyone to leave except for Summer.

"[The SRO] was within five feet of me, he had his hand on his gun. [The principal] said 'I'm gonna give you an ultimatum. We have tried to call your mother. You either come with me to the control room to change your shirt or we will arrest you."

Summer says she remained seated and proceeded to try to reach her mother again.

"I stayed in my seat just like a lot of role models that I have looked up to stayed in their seats," she says. 'I mean, you have to stand up for what you believe in."

Summer says the principal instructed the SRO to arrest Summer. Before he could handcuff her, her mother called back.

Summer went to the control room with the school administrators where she was given a 10-day suspension and ordered not to attend any senior activities, including graduation.

"It's just sad because I worked so hard for four years to walk across that stage," she says. "We have drug dealers walking across that stage, we have sex offenders walking across that stage and then the 4.4 student who showed her shoulders can't."

The senior is an honor roll student with a 4.4 GPA. She has a full scholarship to a major university. The official cause for suspension according to the letter sent home was "insubordination".

She says the principal is still considering expelling her.

Her mother plans to appeal.

A spokesperson for the school system refused to comment, citing student privacy, and provided a copy of the school's dress code. The dress code is lengthy and specifically, prohibits students from wearing off-the-shoulder shirts.

Earlier this school year, 45 students at Hickory Ridge High were sent to the principal's office for wearing leggings with shirts that were deemed too short.

Summer says she understands and respects the dress code, but says the fallout is a lot to shoulder.

"This is my life, I'm on a pre-med track," she says. "A full ride means so much and that is on the line right now."

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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