A California dad is rushing to his daughter’s defense after she got in trouble for wearing a romper to school — with one teacher suggesting the outfit was too distracting to boys.
The drama started when 13-year-old Demetra Alarcon, who attends Raymond J. Fisher Middle School in the Northern California town of Los Gatos, wore the blue romper to class Aug. 28.
When a teacher told her the outfit was too short, her dad, Tony Alarcon, brought in new clothes: jean shorts and a tank top. "I asked Demetra to bend over and touch her toes, right in front of the administrator," Alarcon told TODAY. "And I said, 'Nothing is hanging out. There’s nothing inappropriate. I don’t understand this dress code rule.'
"But the administrator just said the clothes were not appropriate," he continued. "She said the clothes were distracting to boys." Luckily, he had a pair of his daughter's leggings in his car on the 90-degree day.
Alarcon told TODAY that his daughter was “both embarrassed and upset,” noting he’s trying to get the dress code changed because he believes it unfairly targets girls. “You get pulled out of class in front of everyone…She’s just a kid. She’s just 13. She’s not a sex symbol. She just wants to be comfortable and attend class and we’re not affording her that opportunity,” he said.
Alarcon, a 50-year-old investment adviser, said parents should decide whether their children’s clothes are appropriate for school and he’s worried that girls being told their clothing is distracting to boys could have “long-term emotional effects.”
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According to the middle school’s handbook, shorts with inseams under 4 inches aren’t allowed. Neither are halter tops, strapless tops and tank tops with spaghetti straps. Alarcon said he wants the dress code to mirror the state’s education code, which makes no mention of inseams or tank top straps.
TODAY reached out to the middle school, which referred all requests for comment to Los Gatos Union School District Superintendent Diana G. Abbati.
“The Los Gatos Union School District believes that appropriate dress and grooming contribute to a productive learning environment," Abbati told TODAY in a statement. "Students are expected to wear clothes that reflect the collective core values of our learning community.”
Abbati also noted that Raymond J. Fisher Middle School Principal Lisa Fraser recently hosted a “dress code advisory work session” on Sept.11 for parents, teachers and staff who are interested in reviewing the current school policy. No changes to the dress code have been announced yet.