Trouble comes in pairs for some at Oxford High School

It was the final day of class at Oxford High School, but for some students, it was a day spent sitting in the main office and visiting with the principal instead of taking final exams because of dress code violations.

Teresa Rosa received a text message at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning from her daughter, a sophomore at the school, saying she was sent to the office because of her sandals and was no longer permitted to take her finals.

“She had sandals on, so it wasn’t like she had anything provocative,” Rosa said. “It was up to the teachers to send the child to the office, so there were quite a few kids in the school who had the same attire, but because their teacher did not send them to the office, they were able to take their finals. That’s a little discriminatory (being) based on the teacher. Everybody should be under that same violation.

“You’re looking at probably 25 to 35 kids that were sent to the office today because they had the wrong shoes on, denied their final and told they could either take a zero on their final or they could come back Thursday or Friday to take (it). My daughter said at one point there were so many kids in there that they were sitting on each other’s laps and all over the floor.”

No message ever came from the school, principal, secretary of otherwise, notifying her of her daughter’s violations, Rosa said. Considered a Level I offense, an option is given for parental notification via phone or e-mail.

According to the high school’s dress code, the “entire foot must be covered at all times with practical footwear.”

Flip flops, sandals, slippers, clogs without backs and anything with a steel-toe is not permitted for safety reasons.

“A couple students decided that the dress code didn’t apply to them, which it did,” said Oxford Superintendent David Woods in a phone conversation. “There were some kids, as there could be any day of the week, with some violations. They just followed their procedure on dress code violations. In no way is anyone denied a final.

“The closest thing to the truth there would be if some kids may have elected to reschedule their final. It’s not our practice, necessarily, depending on what the final may be, to have them take it outside of that environment. The numbers that are represented are a little skewed. It was a minor thing.”

Regardless of the numbers involved, students who were found in violation were kept in the office for the length of the school day, which was half a day. If they had something in their locker that brought them into code, they were permitted to retrieve the clothing.

To Teresa Rosa, however, the whole situation was an overreaction by the school.

“When they had to go to the bathroom, they were escorted by a security guard to the bathroom because they were told they were in violation of the dress code,” Rosa said. “They were basically treated like a criminal because they had sandals on.”

Concerned with her final, Rosa’s daughter asked if she would be able to take her final in the office, but was denied by Principal Christopher Dormer.

Woods said students were instructed to reschedule their finals with their teachers.

“In no case is no one denied an assessment or given a zero on an assessment,” he said. “That just doesn’t happen. I think there were a handful of students that elected to just retake the final at a different time and they made arrangements with the teachers. No one is ever denied that type of thing. It’s really just kind of business as usual.”

Rosa said she is aware of the need for rules and dress codes in the school, but said she and her daughter feel rules should be equally enforced.

“When my daughter was speaking to the principal, she asked if they were going to go around to every single classroom and get every child out that has flip flops or sandals and he said no,” Rosa said. “That’s up to the teacher to send them down.

“I understand that the last day of school you should still be following the rules, but to deny a child their final on their last day because they wore a sandal or flip flop, to me, is this school or are we the fashion police?”

Rosa will be taking her daughter back to school on Friday to make up her missed finals. Her daughter, who is typically an A/B student, is not someone who frequents trips to the principal’s office, but lately, the dress code has come down on her before.

“The only time she is called down to the office throughout the year is because of the dress code, whether it be her sleeves weren’t long enough or you don’t have the right shoes on,” Rosa said. “To me, I could see if the shorts were too short or your chest is hanging out. It’s not a private school, it’s a public school.

“She’s gotten to the point where she hates school.”

About the Author

Candice Monhollan

Candice Monhollan is a 2012 Temple University graduate. She loves to cover sports, especially hockey. She enjoys marching with the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps and has a love of U.S. military history, which includes reenacting. Reach the author at cmonhollan@dailylocal.com .