The college future of a Hickory Ridge High School senior could be in jeopardy after she was suspended for wearing a slightly off-the-shoulder shirt that showed her collarbones.
Summer, an honor roll student at the Harrisburg, N.C., high school, said she was dining in the cafeteria last week when principal Michelle Cline approached and asked that she cover up with a jacket because her shirt was against the dress code, NBC Charlotte reported. Although Summer told the principal she felt her shirt was “fine” to wear at school, the principal stated that her lower back was also completely exposed, reiterating that she was in violation of the dress code.
Summer complied with the request and put on a jacket that a friend loaned her. The principal was still dissatisfied, however, and asked that the 4.4-GPA student change her outfit altogether in the school’s control room.
“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,” she told the news station.
This isn’t the first time Summer has had issues with Cline during her time at the school. NBC Charlotte reported that things had gotten so bad that Summer’s mom had instructed school officials to contact her FIRST before disciplining her daughter.
“They can’t take me anywhere unless my mother is called,” Summer said. “So, I said, ‘I apologize, I can’t go anywhere with you unless my mom is called.”
Summer nor her principal were able to reach her mom, after which the graduating senior went about her day. But the situation later escalated during a school assembly when the principal entered the auditorium with a school resource officer and asked that everyone leave except Summer.
“[The SRO] was within 5 feet of me, he had his hand on his gun,” the senior told NBC Charlotte. “[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 said she remained seated and tried to get in contact with her mom. Just when Cline ordered the officer to handcuff her, Summer’s mom called.
She then followed the principal and resource officer into the control room where she was given a 10-day suspension and barred from attending any senior day activities — including her own graduation.
“It’s just sad because I worked so hard for four years to walk across that stage,” said the would-be graduate, who has a full ride to a major university. “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.
“This is my life, I’m on a pre-med track,” Summer added. “A full ride means so much and that is on the line right now.”
Fellow teens took to social media to share the teen’s frustration.
@CabCoSchools Michelle Cline, the principal of Hickory Ridge High School, is immature and unfit for her position. Please investigate her.
— Shan (@sheshannigans) May 22, 2017
@ChrsLwdr @CabCoSchools Please reinstate Summer, the student at Hickory Ridge High School who was so wrongly suspended by her principal.
— Jatavius (@JataTheGod) May 22, 2017
Cline is reportedly still considering expelling the senior over the incident, but Summer’s mother plans to appeal. The school’s dress code forbids students from showing their shoulders or backs, but Summer contends that her back nor her shoulder were completely exposed.
The shirt incident is the latest fashion fallout at the school this year. NBC Charlotte reported that 45 students were sent to the principal’s office earlier in the school year for wearing leggings with t-shirts that were reportedly too short.
School officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.