At first Kristjana Smith smiled when she saw her daughter’s name appear on her screen, but when she answered the call, her smile instantly faded. She couldn’t believe what she was being told. Her daughter informed her that she had been pulled from class because of what she was wearing.
Once they got off the phone, Kristjana headed straight to the school and made her way into the principal’s office. She wanted to discuss the matter calmly, but soon, she would be fuming. She was going to make them regret what they had done.
Never Happen Again
Mikayla was in her freshman year at Midwest City High School, Oklahoma. Her school did have a strict dress code, but nowhere did they mention that face masks were not allowed.
Kristjana’s daughter had spent a few days in the hospital, and she wanted to make sure that something like this would never happen again.
After a lot of searching Kristjana finally found a face mask for Mikayla to wear in public. She had good reason to wear this face mask.
Weeks earlier, Mikayla started complaining about a sore throat. At the time, they believed it was just a common cold, but they soon discovered that it was something a lot more serious than the common cold. Things soon went from bad to worse for Mikayla.
After days of staying home and trying to recover in bed, Mikayla’s health didn’t seem to improve at all. She had gone through a course of antibiotics, but once she was done, her fever spiked drastically. It was at this point that she started struggling to breathe.
Kristjana rushed Mikayla to hospital as fast as she could. When the doctor examined Mikayla’s throat, he took a double-take. That’s when he told Kristjana something she never wanted to hear.
After the doctors had done some tests, he informed Kristjana that Mikayla’s illness wasn’t responding to the antibiotics and that a secondary infection had developed.
He booked her into the hospital and Kristjana was heartbroken to leave the hospital without her daughter, as she underwent surgery. But once Mikayla returned to school, all hell broke loose.
Caught Off Guard
Kristjana was concerned with the amount of work Mikayla had missed during her stay at the hospital. She didn’t want her daughter to fall behind in her studies.
Therefore, she sent Mikayla back to school after two weeks in recovery. When one of Mikayla’s teachers noticed the face mask on her face, she had an unprecedented reaction. Kristjana was livid.
It was the second last period of the day and Mikayla was sat in her French class. That was when her French teacher called her out in front of her entire class. She demanded Mikayla to go to the principal’s office. Once she made it to the office, the headmistress made the mistake of contacting her mother.
She gave Kristjana two options. Either she would have to fetch Mikayla immediately, or Mikayla had to remove her face mask. Kristjana was fuming. She couldn’t believe her ears.
Compromised Immune System
Mikayla had been through a lot the last few weeks, it was understandable that Kristjana was concerned for her daughter’s health. Her immune system was compromised and if she got sick again, she would end up in the hospital once again.
Kristjana was livid. She couldn’t understand why the school was doing this. “They threw a big fit about the mask and said that she couldn’t wear it because it was against school policy and against the dress code in the handbook,” Kristjana tried to explain. She knew they were in the wrong, but what could she do about this?
Kristjana dropped what she was doing and immediately made her way to the school. She demanded to speak to the headmistress. She tried to stay calm as she explained why it was so necessary for her daughter to wear the mask, it was to protect her.
She mismanaged to remain calm, but the headmistress wasn’t having it. The next day, however, Kristjana had a plan.
Once Kristjana was certain that the headmistress wasn’t going to allow Mikayla to wear her mask, she went straight the media.
She called every news station she could think of and reporters soon swarmed around the school. She was speaking to a reporter that worked for News 4 when she explained, “She was wearing a medical mask to make sure that she doesn’t get any type of cold from somebody else in school that’s sick.”
Infection Is Not An Option
After Mikayla had had her tonsils removed due to a severe infection, her mom didn’t want to jeopardize the healing process by exposing her to other people carrying colds and flu. “…she has scabbing in the back of her throat,” she said angrily.
The school may have been regretting their reaction by now, but they remained firm in their decision. They released an official statement on the matter.
In the official statement, a spokesperson explained that Mikayla’s mask wouldn’t protect her from airborne diseases and that they had provided her with another mask: “A medical mask has three layers including a paper filter.
The district health coordinator provided a box of surgical grade medical masks to help protect the student from sickness.”
“A ‘rave’ mask is just cloth, similar to pulling a t-shirt over your mouth. It won’t protect from germs,” the spokesperson continued. “When a judgment is to be made regarding distractive items or dress code, a site principal will make the decision. Mid-Del Schools provided a medical mask for a student to wear while at school.”
So, why didn’t Mikayla wear the mask provided?
Mikayla said that the mask that was provided by the school was “too tight” and left painful red welts on her skin. “I want to be able to wear my own mask. It’s comfortable and not painful,” she added.
But should she be allowed to break the dress code rules and wear it? She has already fallen behind in school due to her absence.
“It’s stressful because I didn’t get to learn in my French class and my history class, because I was pulled out, so it was really stressful because now I’m going to have to catch up on more work,” said Mikayla.
But shouldn’t someone with a legitimate reason for wearing a protective mask be allowed to wear one? And do protective masks offer any protection from illnesses, anyway?
Are Masks Effective?
According to David Heymann, former leader of WHO’s infectious disease unit, “a mask that is used to stop getting an infection is sometimes not very effective because people take it off to eat, many times they are worn improperly (and) if they get wet and somebody sneezes on that mask it could pass through.
So, there is really not a lot of evidence (to support wearing masks).” But what would others have to say?
One commenter wrote: “I also wear [a mask] to my university here in Texas. I get so many stares and get asked if I’m sick or they plainly assume I’m contagious. I wear it to protect myself… from the flu and common cold.
My immune system is compromised so if I don’t wear it, I’ll easily get sick. I’d say to try to ignore them, people will always have something to say.”
While most people were supportive of Kristjana, saying that Mikayla had a right to protect herself when her health was already compromised, some people who heard the story were incredulous, saying that if teenagers were allowed to wear what they wanted the education system would fall into chaos…
Why should Mikayla be allowed to break school rules?
The school, despite all the media attention and anger from other parents, refused to budge. But Kristjiana wouldn’t budge on the matter, either. “It was way more of a distraction… the [mask] that they gave her… because it was white and it stood out like a sore thumb.”
The school and the angry mom were locked in a fierce stalemate.
Ordering Another Mask
Kristjana was not backing down. She was adamant that the school had completely overreacted to her daughter’s protective mask and continues to raise awareness online. But she also knew that Mikayla couldn’t spend any more time away from school. She has ordered another protective face mask online and hopes that the school will accept it.
But Mikalya’s not the only student that got picked on because of what she was wearing. Meeting Tony Alarcon
Tony Alarcon wasn’t a man to take things lying down. As a successful investment banker and real estate mogul, he was used to getting his way. The things his daughter’s school was saying about his little girl were completely unacceptable.
And when he saw her tearstained face, he knew he had to use all his resources to make things right.
Tony’s daughter, Demetra, was mortified that she had been singled out that day. Although her situation was by no means unique, it didn’t make it any less embarrassing for the teenager.
When she’d picked out the outfit that had gotten her kicked out of school, she hadn’t seen anything wrong with it. So, what was all the fuss about?
The Outfit That Caused So Much Trouble
Although schools differ in their dress code policies, Demetra’s school didn’t insist on a uniform. All they asked was that what the students wore to school was modest.
But when Demetra picked out that cute little outfit one sweltering Californian morning, she never expected her clothes to cause such a stir – and result in a clash of epic proportions between the school and her own father.
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? After all, Demetra’s choice of clothing was no different from other girls her age.
And on such a hot day, who could blame her? Aside from all the attention, there was another outcome over her outfit that she never saw coming. And it was even worse.
Raymond J. Fisher Middle School is located in Los Gatos, California. On this particular day, it was 90 degrees and rising. Demetra chose the blue romper purely for comfort.
Even so, there was just something about this outfit that would make everyone lose their minds. In the first period, the teacher called her out in front of everyone. Then, the principal made the mistake of calling her father.
The principal gave Tony two options. One, he could come and fetch Demetra immediately, or two, he could bring her a change of clothes. Tony simply couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
He hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary or untoward with Demetra’s outfit today – and he would know. He was the one who had dropped her off that morning!
Seething, Tony decided to bring Demetra a change of clothes. He rifled through her drawers until he came across something that he thought was appropriate – a plain tank top and a pair of denim shorts.
He drove to the school and found his daughter waiting at the gate with tear stains on her face. But the school wasn’t done singling Demetra out just yet. Tony’s battle had only just begun.
What Was The Problem?
After Demetra had changed out of the offending outfit and into something else, the principal again said that her clothes were inappropriate. Now, Tony was furious. He asked the school’s administrator exactly what the problem was.
He even made Demetra bend over to demonstrate that her shorts were covering her adequately. He wouldn’t be satisfied until they told him the truth.
Standing Up For His Daughter
Not satisfied with the school administrator’s answer, Tony insisted that they tell him the real reason why his daughter was being singled out. He had a suspicion, but in this day and age, he didn’t think that it couldn’t possibly be true.
Even though he had prepared for this, he was still furious when they came right out and said it.
The school administrator then went on to explain that the dress code violation had nothing to do with modesty and everything to do with length. She stammered that the romper Demetra had worn and the denims that Tony had picked out didn’t pass the “fingertip test.”
But Tony knew that wasn’t the real reason.
Tony argued that the other girls in Demetra’s class were wearing similar outfits — he saw them for himself as he pulled into the parking lot. Why weren’t they being pulled from class for wearing shorts and tank tops?
And just what was the “fingertip test” anyway? Tony was becoming angrier by the minute. They didn’t know who they were messing with.
The administrator explained that the “fingertip test” is the standard that the pupils of the school had to adhere to. Tony asked Demetra to relax and let her arms fall to her sides so that he could see for himself. But the shorts’ hem fell just below her extended fingertips.
Seeing that the furious father wasn’t going to accept this explanation, she quickly came up with another one. But when he heard it, Tony saw red.
Just exactly what was the school administrator insinuating about his daughter? He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He asked her to repeat herself so that he could process what she’d just said before flying off the handle.
Of course, he thought cynically. Of course, the real reason had to do with the boys in Demetra’s class.
The administrator regretted the words that came out of her mouth instantly. Ha! Tony thought. Now he knew the real reason why the school had such a problem with the way his daughter dressed. And he wasn’t going to take it lightly.
The reason for his daughter’s tears wasn’t that the school had a certain image to adhere to, or that she was dressed immodestly. It was because she could be a distraction to the boys in her class.
Cover Up, Or Get Out
Then, the administrator said that the only way Demetra would be allowed to attend her classes was if Tony fetched her some leggings to cover herself up with. In the 90-degree heat! Demetra and her father couldn’t believe the unfairness of it all.
Demetra felt like she was being picked on, and her father agreed with her. This school was about to get schooled.
Demetra quickly pointed out that the school dress code was never enforced on the boys in her class. 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 singled out in front of everyone and their parents called! Then, her dad decided to weigh in.
Not The Only Offender
Keeping his anger at bay, he pointed out that he’d noticed other students while he was in the parking lot who were definitely not following the rules. He said that the girls, and his daughter, in particular, were being watched far more than the boys.
How could this be fair? Then, he raised another important point.
On a day this hot, how could the girls wear leggings? He argued that the school’s dress code clearly didn’t allow for hot weather. Tony felt that some leniency should be given to students when temperatures are that high.
Wearing shorter, lighter clothing is a simple issue of being comfortable in the heat. The fact that his daughter couldn’t be comfortable due to distracted boys was unacceptable to him. And he wasn’t about to simply let it go.
Tony decided to get Demetra’s friends to voice their opinions on the matter, and they didn’t disappoint. Almost every girl he asked felt like the dress code rules were unfair and that the system was flawed.
These girls were being made to feel uncomfortable in the summer, all because the boys couldn’t control themselves? Tony refused to accept it.
Taking It To The Media
The angry dad took to the media with his daughter’s dilemma, appearing on Today and a few other local news reports. He had the money and inclination to make himself heard. He voiced his concerns, but his biggest was how the school had made her feel that day.
He stated that a girl of her age only wants to be comfortable, nothing more. His daughter had been mortified when she had been pulled from class because of what she wore. But would Tony win the fight?
Fighting The System
When asked what the solution to the school’s outdated dress code would be, he proposed that it wasn’t up to the teachers to decide what they did and didn’t feel was appropriate. He said that the decision should lie solely with the students’ parents.
With his opinion gaining traction, Tony decided to go public.
A Bigger Issue
He proposed reasonable amendments to the school’s dress code, stating that “underwear and midriffs could not be visible” and that there should be “no shirts with spaghetti straps.”
But what he didn’t know was that he was just scratching at the surface of a much bigger issue in society. And not everyone agreed with Tony’s stance.
While most people were supportive of Tony, saying that he was uncovering the issue of body image and the objectification of girls.
Some said that if teenagers were allowed to wear what they wanted the education system would fall into chaos.