Keale Sauer, a high school sophomore, was wearing this outfit when she was removed from classes and says she missed a final exam. (Photo: Keale Sauer/Twitter)
Female students at a California high school are up in arms after they say more than 25 girls were removed from classes for a day during final exams for supposed dress code violations.
At Vista Murietta High School, where temperatures last week were in the 90s, a collection of students — school officials claim it was 25, students say it was more like 40 — were escorted by school security to the office for On Campus Intervention (OCI) last Tuesday, where they were held because they were told their dresses were too short.
Keale Sauer, who just finished her sophomore year, says she was wearing a dress that she has worn to school before when she was pulled aside by a security guard, who told her the dress was too short. “It wasn’t against dress code,” she tells Yahoo Parenting of her black dress, which she covered with a cardigan. “My mother even measured it before I left for school.” According to the district guidelines, “skirts/shorts/skorts must be no shorter than 4” from the top of the knee.”
Sauer says she was sent to the OCI office, where approximately 40 other girls were also being held. “About 90 percent of them didn’t break any dress code rules,” she says. “When I asked one security guard while we were being held when we didn’t break rules, she said ‘the skirts look shorter when you walk.’”
Why so many girls were taken out of class on this particular day, Sauer isn’t sure, though she thinks it was because a new security guard started that day. She ended up spending half the day in OCI because her parents weren’t available to bring her clothes earlier, and says she missed her Spanish final exam because of the incident. “It’s ridiculous that they did that at the end of the year when we are trying to do finals and do final review,” she says.
Sauer shared this photo of her friend, Cameron, who was also removed from class for dress code violations in this outfit. (Photo: Keale Sauer/Twitter)
Karen Parris, Media and Communications spokesperson for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District, confirms that the incident occurred but says no students missed final exams. “Our focus is on learning so we don’t want to take away from instructional time,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “My understanding is that as the girls were arriving at school in the morning they were taken into OCI for dress code violations. At that point they contacted parents for alternate clothing to wear.”
While Parris confirms that the number of students taken in for dress code violations was higher than usual that day, she says it was only 25 out of 3,400 students. “The temperatures had gone up into the 90s, as temperatures go up we do change into our summer clothes,” she says of the reason why so many more students than normal got in trouble that day. She also says that the outfits shown in the photos in this article must not accurately reflect what Sauer and her friend were wearing. “I can tell you that as they are shown in those photos [the students] would not have been coded,” Parris says. Sauer confirmed to Yahoo Parenting that this was the exact outfit she was wearing when the incident occurred.
After the incident, a number of students, including some who were not taken out of class for dress code violations, voiced their frustrations with the school dress code on social media. “It gets to at least 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer time and we are expected to wear jeans. Guys walk out of the locker rooms wearing tops literally cut in half exposing their whole entire torso and they aren’t even looked at once,” Lauren Callella, a Murrieta student who wasn’t one of detained students, tells Yahoo Parenting. “They come to school wearing shorts that are way shorter than allowed and nobody seems to care at all. When guys wear things like that it’s fine, nobody even cares to take a second glance. When girls wear anything of that manner they’re deemed a distraction. … You can’t dress code a girl who’s wearing shorts the same length as a guy you’re overlooking. That’s the problem. We just want to be treated equal with everyone else.”
Parris says school officials have heard students’ complaints about the dress code and will review the guidelines over the summer. “We review our dress code very year to make sure it’s reasonable, equitable for all students and something that can be uniformly enforced. This year will be no different,” she says. “Typically, boys in our schools don’t wear short shorts, tight leggings, skirts. There are differences in clothing styles that you have to address. But we want to make sure it is a good learning environment for all students, and of course dress code does play into that.”
For now, Sauer says she won’t be wearing dresses to school for a while. “I was going to wear a dress later that week, but I couldn’t miss my finals any more so I decided not to take that chance,” she says. “I think dress codes are needed, but when we’re getting in trouble when our outfits meet the guidelines, then it’s gone too far.”