Evette Reay, 18, was suspended on her last day of school for wearing this dress. (Photo: Evette Reay)
A high school senior was suspended with only 30 minutes left of her school year after wearing a dress that violated school dress code.
When Evette Reay, a senior at West Side High School in Dayton, Idaho, got dressed on Friday morning, she chose an outfit that made her feel good. “I read in Seventeen that I had to dress for how I felt,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “If I dressed well I would feel better about myself, and I wanted to feel good on my last day.” Reay, 18, chose a short-sleeved green dress with a lace overlay and sandals.
But that afternoon, with a half hour left in the school day, a teacher told her she had to go home because her dress was too short. According to the school handbook, “skirts, dresses, or other similar attire must extend at least to the top of the knee cap, from the front and from the back.” Reay admits that her dress may have been an inch or two short of that, but says she was focused on wearing a dress that made her feel like she could conquer the world.
The dress, which has sleeves that nearly reach Reay’s elbows and certainly passes many schools’ “fingertip rule” (the dress must fall below the student’s fingertips when her hands are at her sides), is hardly inappropriate. Many might even describe it as demure. But it’s the latest in a host of seemingly modest dresses to be singled out at schools. Earlier this year, a senior was kicked out of prom due to a cut out in the back of her dress; another was suspended after she was told her long-sleeved dress showed too much cleavage.
When the teacher, Legrand Leavitt, told Reay to go home, she refused. “He said ‘do I need to call the superintendent?’ and I said ‘yes, and call my mom too,’” she says. Reay decided to call her mother directly, so she could bring the student an alternate outfit. According to the school handbook, “if a student is inappropriately dressed, he/she will be required to call home to arrange for appropriate clothing, or the school will provide a t-shirt, sweatshirt or sweatpants to be worn that day.”
But instead of letting her mother bring an alternate outfit or sending Reay to get school-provided clothes, Reay says the teacher threatened to withhold her diploma for insubordination. “I think in the moment he thought he could use his power to intimidate me,” she says. After a call to the principal, Reay was suspended and told to leave school grounds immediately. She had to return on Monday, after the school year was over, to wrap up end-of-year procedures.
Reay says her mother picked her up at school and tried to discuss the suspension with the principal. “The teacher told the principal that I had gotten in his face and yelled at him but we were at least four feet apart the entire conversation,” Reay says. “I was told, ‘you are suspended, goodbye.’ I had no time to tell my side of the story.”
Principal Tyler Telford told Yahoo Parenting he couldn’t discuss the specifics of the suspension due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, but said that “the best thing a parent can do for their child is support a teacher and the school.”
Despite the threat to her diploma, Reay graduated with her class on Wednesday evening and will attend Idaho State University, where she was accepted into the honors program, next year.
According to Local 8 news, school board trustee Dan Garner will try to get the suspension expunged from Reay’s record.
“I love the dress, I have no regrets about wearing it, and I would wear it again any day,” Reay says. “I feel good in it and I think all women need to realize that they should wear what they feel good in.”