Dad Saves the Day When Teen Suspended Over Her LooksBy John P.
When the teen years arrive, it can be hard for fathers to avoid a little conflict. It’s just life, really! But in the case of Tony and Demetra Alarcon, the fight was on the outside, with dad and daughter united. It’s rare, but it happens!
He’d Heard More Than Enough
It’s sad to say, but young Demetra was getting picked on in class. It’s a common story, for middle school. But this time, the reason wasn’t so easy to understand. What was going on here? Dear old dad decided to investigate the mystery.
At the requested meeting, the school administrator blurted out the truth. He berated Demetra right there and then, horrifying Tony completely. It was shocking, and way over the line. Were these adults out of their minds? Things were about to come to blows, and quick!
Next: See the madness that caused dad and daughter to fight back hard against bias!
Peace, Harmony, and Success
Tony Alarcon was a man who rarely let life pass him by. He was used to getting whatever he wanted, through hard work and determination. In his professional life, he was an investment banker. Beyond that, he dabbled in real estate. That went well, too!
In general, Tony tried to deal with clients and customers with a common-sense philosophy. He wanted everyone to be on the same page, and see eye-to-eye with him. But it seems that decency just went out the window when he encountered crazed high school staff on a mission to destroy his daughter. What in the world was their problem?
Demetra was just getting started in life and had a great role model. She would later express surprise at how quickly things had gotten out of hand, in this case. Yes, she was getting picked on. But she had enough sense to see that she wasn’t the only one experiencing it. Kids can be mean, sometimes!
Still, she was concerned that it wasn’t slowing down. One morning, Dem picked out a normal outfit and prepared to learn for the day. Little did she know this small choice would get her thrown out of school entirely!
The Infamous Outfit
The reality is, not all schools are the same. Some require kids to wear uniforms. Others allow a free for all, in the area of fashion. Demetra was in the latter category and never had a problem following the rules before. After all, there were’t many!
Up until that point, her school just asked students to wear appropriate clothing. On the day in question, there were no obvious signs that this norm had been violated. The drama was about to begin, and Demetra was lucky to have a father with his own ideas!
Mistakes Were Made
Right after being singled out, clothing would become a major issue for young Demetra. The girl would even make the evening news, something she could never have imagined. Why would the public at large be so interested in the clothing of random teens?
The beginning of the summer can get pretty hot in some areas, and school often lasts into June. It’s hard to sit cooped up in class all day, in layers! Dressed for the weather at hand, Demetra really didn’t think about the stares. But things were about to get entirely unpleasant, and fast.
Publicly Shamed and Blamed
Demetra was lucky to be a student in sunny California. Or so she thought! She attended Raymond J. Fisher Middle School, and loved it most of the time. But there was a reality about the weather, and that reality was heat. On the day of the incident, the air was 90 degrees and climbing.
Since she was a girl with plenty of sense, she picked out a blue romper. On other days, she had worn shorts and tees. What was the difference, really? Soon, she would find out the terrible truth.
It’s absolutely horrifying, but Demetra had to deal with it. When she showed up in her perfectly normal outfit, it caused a commotion. Out of the blue, her teacher scolded her in front of the entire class. It was surprising and completely humiliating!
To be picked on by fellow students is one thing. But for a trusted adult to join in, that was harder to understand. It was hard to process for the youngster, as many might expect. The school soon involved her father, to continue the harassment. That’s when things got crazy!
Tony was called in to chat about the chaos in class. He was quickly given an ultimatum, and it was something he had never dealt with before in the school system. The cornered him: He had to bring her a complete change of clothing, or pick her up immediately!
What was wrong with her current outfit, though? Tony really didn’t understand over the phone. The fact was, he had personally driven her to school that day. He had not noticed anything out of the ordinary, and couldn’t see what rule was violated. Why were things escalating so severely, so quickly?
Friendly at First
Although he wasn’t happy to receive this call at all, Tony didn’t want to get his daughter in more hot water. For whatever reason, the clothing had caused outrage. He decided to play it cool, and he showed up with an alternative outfit. Was it an improvement?
The change was a tank top and jean shorts. He picked them out personally and didn’t see any problem with them. After all, she had worn them many times before in public. When he arrived, Demetra was at the entrance, and it was obvious she was upset. She had been crying, and this wouldn’t the last time!
To solve the issue and put it behind them, Demetra took the clothes. She changed into them and went back to class. But still. the school hated it. Deemed problematic still, things were getting confusing. And Tony was rapidly losing his temper, having traveled all the way there in good faith.
Impatient and pretty angry, he demanded answers. He wanted them to directly explain the violation with her new look. No one likes to think that the system is rigged, and they will always be wrong. What was the real reason for this unwanted attention?
The administrators didn’t want to get terribly specific. They simply stated it was inappropriate. Tony shook his head, unsatisfied. He asked they provide a better reason, to avoid the problem in the future. At this point, it was starting to look like his daughter was being picked on and singled out for punishment.
In his heart, Tony thought of one reason it all might be happening this way. He hoped it wasn’t the case, but prepared for the worst. When they finally gave their real answer, tears steamed down Demetra’s face. What was the truth?
Unsatisfied and Angry
The reality was, no real dress code existed. The administrator went on to explain the subjective standard being used. In this case, it was all about length. Her romper and her shorts were simply too short, they said. But the question remained: Why weren’t any other students being punished?
The claim was that the school used a “fingertip test.” Perhaps that is used in other districts. But Tony knew that wasn’t going on at all. If it was only his daughter getting called out, there was a different issue at hand. He was determined to expose the fraud!
Only Demetra was crying in an office, shocked and upset. Tony argued the obvious, which was that other girls in her class were basically wearing the same thing. He looked as he pulled into the parking lot, and there didn’t seem to be a big difference. Did no one notice this?
If they weren’t being pulled from class in exactly this way, there was a problem. Why should everyone but Demetra be allowed to wear shorts and tank tops on a 90-degree day? Tony was starting to boil inside. What father wouldn’t?
According to Demetra, it wasn’t the first time she had experienced something like this. She felt she had been singled out before, too. On another day, she had been called out when her bra strap was showing. Super embarrassing to have that chat!
Why was she being continually embarrassed, though? Demetra felt like she was being punished just for the fact she was wearing a bra — and needed one. It was a bit creepy, actually. She couldn’t prove her intuition and continued to suffer. Now was simply the latest episode in the drama!
Proving the Case
Demonstration time was needed. The administrator insisted his “fingertip test” was the gold standard for all students at the school. Tony asked his daughter to let her arms fall down to her side. This showed the real length of her shorts, beyond all doubts. It was an easy task to show that these claims were nonsense. Her fingertips did not fall below her hem!
Furious, Tony was not going to let this go. It was crazy, asking her to change her outfit, over and over for no reason, Why was she being harassed by these adults? Suddenly, the administrator revealed the real reason!
World of Women
The truth was, Tony had a lot of experience with women at all levels in his life. He had a wife and three lovely daughters. He was keenly aware of the struggles they went through, in daily life. And he wasn’t going to let anyone pile on and cause trouble!
Tony embraced his role as dad. He ready to do whatever it took to make sure his girls had a fair shot in the world. The nosy bureaucrats had no idea who they were dealing with! What did they try to pull, before they understood who he was?
Tony’s jaw dropped when he finally discovered the reason Demetra was under the spotlight. The words came out, and they were horrifying. An administrator was insinuating things about his girl that he was not entirely comfortable hearing. In fact, he couldn’t believe they had actually gone there! Did they have no shame, seriously?
The reason was shocking. He asked them to repeat the idea, but it didn’t help. The truth was completely different than their initial claim. It was all about the males in Demetra’s classroom. What was going on here, really?
Demetra the Distraction
Demetra was referred to as a distraction. The administrator seemed to regret saying this right away, but there was no taking it back. The genie was out of the bottle! Tony had known all along that there was more to the story than a finger test, and it was confirmed in real life.
Tony saw plenty of girls whose fingers extended way beyond their shorts in the hall. He wasn’t going to allow arbitrary harassment from adults. She wasn’t dressed immodestly, even by their standards. They just felt she was a unique distraction to all the boys. But too bad!
Cover Up Or Leave Now
No negotiation was working, at this point. The staff said that there was only one way out for Demetra to be on good terms again. Her dd had to get her some leggings, and all would be forgotten. It was a 90-degree day, and they were totally serious!
Demetra and dad alike couldn’t believe the insanity of it all. Rightfully, she felt like she was being unfairly targeted. Who could really disagree, objectively? Tony decided it was time to teach the teachers a lesson. Whether they knew it yet or not, this could not stand!
Double Trouble Standards
Demetra was a quick study, and she looked at the logic with her own. She pointed out a double standard that even a teen under fire could see. This idea only applied to girls, and the boys could wear whatever they pleased. On the hottest of hot days, she was being asked to wear full leggings. Were their human legs really so different?
But even when it came to hats, boys broke that rule all the time. It really just seemed like the adults were not interested in enforcing any rules on half the school. Why should she suffer, in that context?
Not Alone at All
Tony was a smart guy, and he kept most of his anger inside. He would later unleash it, but time and place is an important choice. He mentioned all the other girls he saw outside the office that were also in violation. And he mentioned the gender disparity in terms of watchful eyes.
It was time to use common sense on people who had none. Diplomatically, he made his point that boys were being treated differently on a hot day. How was that fair, really? He waited for a decent answer.
Dad Gets Mad
No one of any age, in any setting, truly wants to wear leggings when the heat is at the max. How could they bother her on this day, of all days? Surely now would be the time to use some compassion. But it wasn’t, somehow. No leniency was being offered at all, and the school was only doubling down. And only on Dem!
It was unacceptable. The idea that his daughter had to physically sweat and squirm just to help the boys was intolerable. Could not one see this point, seriously?
Taking a Survey
Tony decided to fight back, in a small way at first. He decided to go get Demetra’s pals to say what they thought. Of course, they agreed that it was all unfair. Boys really did get away with different lengths. And they had noticed this awhile ago!
The dress rules were just not fair, according to all the girls who answered. It seems something about the system was flawed, and maybe it was time for a change. Boys had to learn to control themselves without punishing their female classmates in the heat! If not now, would they ever develop that skill?
Calling for Backup
Tony knew that alone, they would be targeted again. But if the whole community was up in arms, it would be much harder to continue. The rules were preposterous, and the double standard was easy to see. It was time to mobilize. Tony contacted the parents at Raymond J. Fisher.
Tony decided social media would be a good way to link up. He tried a new site called NextDoor, which aims to do exactly that, within a neighborhood. The moms and dads of girls were most interested, right away! What was the plan of action?
The Fight for Her Right
Tony regularly posted on NextDoor, and his efforts paid off. His claims got plenty of local attention, and a lot of open support. Most parents were infuriated on his behalf, and sympathized with Demetra. It was hard to do: How could young girls take all the blame for the hormones of their classmates?
Sure, some standards might be warranted. No one thinks wearing a bikini to school makes any sense. But on a hot California day, shorts and a tank top were really not uncommon. There was nothing unreasonable about it, actually!
Unwavering Moral Support
No matter the controversy,. the school wouldn’t budge. The female principal even supported the reprimand, which was confusing to many observers. How could young girls be expected to fully learn, if they were too hot to concentrate? It didn’t make any sense to overheat half the students. Why wouldn’t the school give in?
The principal explained that these had always been the rules at her school. She thought they were fairly tailored to each gender. But the father in this story didn’t agree, and he wasn’t about to go away.
Unequal is Unacceptable
Tony said there was one thing he would not tolerate, no matter the pressure. The clear discrepancy between boys and girls would not be kay with him. And the community was now aware that this had been going on, for far too long. Enforcement only on girls was not the lesson they wanted their daughters to learn.
Tony concluded that this was a way to control girls, and stop them from expressing themselves. That was not an option for this dad, and he went straight to the media. How did that go?
Going on Offense
The news took a real interest: The angry father was hard to ignore. He explained his daughter’s dilemma on the Today Show, a national outlet. In this small community, the school probably never anticipated so much attention. But they did everything they could to warrant a look, and America looked closely!
Tony explained that his daughter just wanted to feel comfortable in class. She was still pretty young, and this was very confusing for her. Overall, the ordeal had been mortifying. But would Tony get the rules changed after embarrassing the school instead?
Challenging the System
Every problem needs a reasonable solution: It’s easy to criticize, but there needs to be a substitute! Tony had his own idea, which he easily explained. It would be simple for the school, and take away their liability. No longer would teachers need to keep up with trends and make subjective calls. The sole decision would rest with parents, at home!
This would fix everything! Nobody wanted these administrators involved anymore, at all. The opinion was getting popular, and Tony continued with his public advocacy. What did he do next?
Many Larger Issues
Tony wasn’t proposing swimsuits in science class. He did offer a few guidelines, just to set the tone. He agreed that actual underwear and tummies should not be visible for study time. And he agreed that perhaps spaghetti straps could be a clear line for limits. But the nitpicking really needed to stop!
The truth was, the issue didn’t only exist at this lone school. All across California, and indeed the nation, similar debates were taking place. Did all parents agree? As it turned out, things were a bit trickier than laid-back Tony ever expected.
There were millions who agreed with Tony. But like every issue, there is always some dissent. Some women wanted the girls to cover up more but on different grounds. Not because they were distracting the boys, of course! But a claim was made that showing too much skin objectified them early in life.
Many said that if teens could really pick out whatever they wanted, the whole education plan would become chaos. People weighed in on social media, and the conversation became more complicated. Was that really true in the heat, especially?
Opinions Do Vary
One anonymous dad wrote: ”We are not idiots, we were all that age and we know better…That child has her father wrapped around her finger, she knows exactly what to do to get away with wearing that clothing to school…he is so clueless he is even fighting for her cause.”
He also criticized Tony directly: ”These rules are protecting children and most of all they are protecting our daughters from prying boys’ eyes and their not-so-innocent thoughts. I am a father of two beautiful girls so please don’t think that I have no idea of what I am talking about.” Did he have a point, maybe?
Debate Rages On
Maybe, maybe not. Another observer agreed with Tony: ”They are kids…what is the reasoning that in 100-degree heat a girl cannot wear something that keeps her cool? I would like to know the reasoning rather than blindly adhering to obsolete sexist rules.” He knew he would find support!
Other people echoed the idea that the responsibility cannot be only on girls for boys to control their growing impulses. At that age, it might be hard. But the Cali heat is hard for everyone, and that was being ignored!
Try School Uniforms
There was another idea proposed, during the online discussion. It was not really new, but parents felt it might solve a modern problem. If school uniforms were adopted all over the country, the arguments could be avoided altogether! There would no longer be discrimination between boys and girls. Wasn’t that fair?
The idea would not be adopted, in this case. Perhaps it was just too extreme, in the other direction. Tony moved to establish clear guidelines to immediately improve the lives of girls at Raymond J. Fisher Middle School. What happened next?
Change is Needed
With so much publicity, it was necessary to respond. How could they not? The school addressed the accusations and dismissed the critiques. They emphasized their goal was always “reasonable decorum”. Whatever that meant, Tony was not interested in letting them define those terms anymore. After the targeting of his daughter over even the other girls, it was not going to stand.
The school had completely overreacted, in Tony’s opinion. A formal meeting was set up to discuss the rules going forward, after so much community outrage. Did anything different happen this time?
A Losing Battle
The results were less than what Tony had hoped. In the end, he lost the argument. After the meeting, there was no change to the dress code at all. The school moved on from his concerns. But Tony did not! The furious father declared he would still advocate for equality, from his point of view. Even in middle school!
Demetra is certainly not the only case of kids trying to be comfortable in school who get backlash. The debate has been a big one for a long time. It seems no one really agrees!
Sure, the Catholic schoolgirl look has always been around. But that’s not the only place that uniforms exist! The National Center for Education Statistics has a lot of interesting data. Today, uniforms are not the norm. But they do have some place, in the USA. Around 20% of public schools require uniforms. And 10% of high schools are trying it out, too!
It seems the trend is actually picking up, and not slowing down. People in favor of the idea routinely say that this policy reduces all emphasis on clothing., which leaves more time for study. Are they right?
A Long Tradition
Often, jealousy between students becomes a problem. Hopefully, not a violent one in most cases! But that’s not the only reason uniforms were worn by kids throughout history. Uniforms were worn at prestigious schools around the world in the past. In England, they were an upper-class norm!
Charming, maybe. But overseas in America, they just didn’t catch on in most places. Just private religious schools, mostly. And maybe, military boarding schools! Public schools have long been a place for students to express themselves. Fashion has always been a fun way to do it!
In the 90s, there was one President that liked the idea too, even though it never became universal. President Bill Clinton even mentioned it in his State of the Union speech one year! Why was he advocating against trendy clothes? Apparently, fights were breaking out for a very different reason, back then.
The prez explained: “If it means that teenagers will stop killing each other over designer jackets, then our public schools should be able to require their students to wear school uniforms.” As it turns out, showing too much skin was not the only problem at schools nationwide!
Pros and Cons
Opponents of school uniforms generally have the same argument. Learning to express oneself is a key part of life. Picking out an outfit is a part of that, and no lesson should be left behind in for of conformity. Does the school want to create empowered individuals or robots?
The debate will probably never rend. There simply seem to be arguments on both sides of the issue. Tony and Demetra Alarcon were caught in the middle. And perhaps, truthfully, they were mismatched with a school district. Hopefully, high school will be better — but only time will tell!