“Back talk” and bare shoulders may stop a talented high school teen from pursuing her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor.
Summer, a senior at Hickory Ridge High School in Harrisburg, NC, maintains a 4.4 GPA, has a full ride to college and hopes to study medicine in the fall. But a recent run-in with her high school principal over the school’s strictly enforced dress code threatens to completely destroy her plans.
Summer recently wore a shirt to school that exposed a portion of her collarbone and a hint of her shoulders. The teen says the principal approached her in the cafeteria during lunch and asked if she had a jacket. Summer says she didn’t have anything to put over the shirt, but a friend of hers came through in the clutch and offered her jacket.
“I pulled it up, put the jacket over it, zipped up the jacket,” Summer told local news outlets.
Summer claims her principal demanded that she go to the school’s Control Room to change clothes.
WCNC reports that this wasn’t Summer’s first time clashing with school administrators. In fact, her relationship with her principal was so strained, that Summer’s mother instructed school officials to call her before administering any sort of discipline to her daughter.
Summer—who was fully aware of her mother’s instruction—reportedly told the principal that she couldn’t go change her clothes until her mom had been notified.
When her mother couldn’t be reached, Summer left the cafeteria at the end of her lunch period and proceeded to the auditorium. Not long after that, she says the principal burst into the room with the School Resource Officer (SRO) and put everyone out, except her. She then claims that the SRO put his hand on his gun as the principal issued her a final warning for her to either she change clothes or immediately be arrested. Once again, she refused to change, so the principal ordered that she be placed under arrest.
That’s when her mom called back.
Summer was ultimately escorted to the school’s control room where she was issued a suspension and barred from attending any senior activities, including graduation. In a letter sent home to Summer’s mother, the official reason for the suspension was listed as “insubordination.”
Summer’s mom, Jeanette Hunter, told EBONY.com that the school year ends on June 9, but that her daughter isn’t allowed to return to class until June 5. She also says the school hasn’t sent Summer any of the homework she’s missed while out on suspension, but that she’s been completing the assignments she’s learned about from friends.
“She is handling it so well it brings tears to my eyes,” Hunter said. “She has the tools to work through this, so this is what makes it easier on me as a single, full time working mom.”
Ms. Hunter says she’s hopeful that summer can complete assignments as well as attend her graduation, but in the meantime, so that she can graduate on time and maintain her college scholarship.