“You’re expelled!” yelled the Principal. Demetra was about to burst into tears as she couldn’t understand what wrong could she possibly do. “But, what’s the matter? What have I done?” she asked.
“You just can’t be dressed like that in my school!” he shouted. Little did he know that he was making a big mistake, not realizing who Demetra’s dad was!
Tony Alarcon wasn’t a man to take things lying down. He was a successful investment banker and real estate mogul, who was used to getting his way.
Tony had a daughter named Demetra who was mortified to be singled out that day. Demetra’s school had said some things about her which were completely acceptable to Tony.
Every school has a dress code policy, but Demetra’s school didn’t insist on a uniform. All they expected was the students to dress up decently.
She never knew that the outfit she was choosing would end up getting her expelled from the school. It turned out to be the most embarrassing day of her life.
Demetra’s outfit had become a hot-button topic overnight, and soon she was caught up in a whirlwind of media and public outcry. But why did that happen?
After all, Demetra’s choice of clothing wasn’t different from other girls her age. And on such a hot day, who could blame her? But this wasn’t all, something worse was about to happen which no one had ever imagined.
Raymond J. Fisher Middle School is located in Los Gatos, California. It was a hot day with temperatures reaching 90 degrees. Demetra chose the blue romper purely for comfort.
But, there was something about this outfit that would make everyone lose their minds. In the first period, the teacher called her out in front of everyone and called her father. Tony simply couldn’t believe what he heard.
The principal called him and said, “You can either fetch your daughter immediately or bring her a change of clothes.” He was left in shock as he didn’t find anything inappropriate when he dropped her off that morning! Tony decided to bring her a change of clothes.
He rifled through her drawers and came across – a plain tank top and a pair of denim shorts, which he thought would be appropriate. He drove to the school and found Demetra waiting at the gate with teary eyes. But the school wasn’t done yet. Tony’s battle had just begun.
After Demetra had changed the offending outfit, the principal pointed out saying her clothes were inappropriate. Now, Tony was furious. He even made Demetra bend over to demonstrate that her shorts were covering her adequately.
He wouldn’t be satisfied without knowing the truth. Not satisfied with the school’s answer, Tony demanded a genuine reason for his daughter’s expulsion. He had a suspicion but never imagined it to be true.
The school administrator explained that the dress code violation had nothing to do with modesty but with the length. She stammered that the romper Demetra had worn and the shorts that Tony brought her failed the “fingertip test.” But Tony knew that wasn’t the real reason.
Tony argued that the other girls in Demetra’s class wore similar outfits — he had seen them when he came to drop off Demetra. Why weren’t they expelled for wearing shorts and tank tops? And what was the “fingertip test” anyway? Tony was getting furious. They didn’t know who they were messing with.
The administrator explained that the “fingertip test” is the standard that the pupils had to adhere to. Tony asked Demetra to relax her arms to her sides so that he could see for himself. To his surprise, the shorts’ hem fell just below her fingertips.
Now there was no way Tony was buying this explanation. To save herself, she immediately made up another one. But when he heard it, Tony was red. Tony couldn’t believe his ears.
He asked the administrator to repeat herself so that he could process what she’d just said. To his astonishment, what he imagined to be the actual reason turned out to be true!
The administrator instantly regretted every word that came out of her mouth that day. It was as if things came crashing back on her. Well, that’s karma, isn’t it?
Ha! Tony thought. Now he knew the real reason why the school was making such a fuss about her daughter’s outfit. He wasn’t going to take it lightly anymore.
The reason for his daughter’s tears wasn’t the violated school dress code. It was because she could be a distraction to the boys in her class.
The administrator tried to make herself clear and said, “there’s only way Demetra would be allowed to attend her classes. If you fetch her some leggings to cover herself up with.” In the 90-degree heat!
Tony and his daughter couldn’t believe how unfair the school was. Demetra felt like she was being picked on, and her father agreed with her. The school was surely in trouble.
Demetra quickly pointed out saying, “Boys never follow the dress code!” She used wearing hats in class as an example.
The school forbade wearing hats in class, yet the boys broke this rule all the time. Even worse, they were never expelled! Then, her dad decided to weigh in.
Moreover, the boys were allowed to wear whatever they wanted. There were no restrictions for them. No wonder, the principal’s behaviour leaked of partiality!
Demetra’s dad was furious. He could map what was happening with this daughter and decided not to let this one go … of course, for all the right reasons!
“On a hot day like this, how could the girls wear leggings?” He argued while mentioning that the school’s dress code never considered the hot weather. Tony felt that some leniency should be given to students when temperatures are that high.
Wearing shorter, lighter clothing is a simple solution to be comfortable in the heat. The fact that his daughter couldn’t be comfortable due to distracted boys was unacceptable to him. But this wasn’t going to end soon.
Tony decided to get Demetra’s friends to voice their opinions on the matter. Almost every girl he asked had similar views as him and his daughter’s. The system was flawed.
These girls were forced to feel uncomfortable in this weather, merely because the boys couldn’t control themselves? Tony would never buy it.
The angry dad took this matter to the media with his daughter and appeared on Today and a few other local broadcasts. He stated that a girl of her age only wishes to be comfortable, nothing more. His daughter had been mortified when she had been pulled from class because of what she wore.
When asked what the solution to this sensitive matter could be, he proposed that the teachers shouldn’t decide, instead the rights should solely lie with the students’ parents. With his opinion gaining traction, Tony decided to go public.
He proposed reasonable amendments to the school’s dress code. Went on to say that, “underwear and midriffs couldn’t be visible” and that there should be “no shirts with spaghetti straps.”
But this was just the tip of the iceberg, a bigger issue lied underneath. Not everyone agreed with Tony’s stance.
While most people supported Tony, saying that he was uncovering the issue of body image and objectification of girls, few opposed. They said if teenagers were allowed to wear outfits of their choice, the education system would fall into chaos.
One dad had caused such a stir that soon everyone was talking about the hot-button topic. It wasn’t long before the school decided to respond to Tony’s accusations.
They stated that the dress code was in place in order to establish decorum. Tony, not backing down, was adamant that the school had completely overreacted to his daughter’s clothes.
Principal Fraser finally decided to hold a meeting and conceded that some compromises will be made. What those changes will be, only time will tell. But Demetra wasn’t the only teen to shake up dress code policies in the education sector.