MOUNT VERNON — Aside from an eye doctor appointment, Monday should have been a normal day for Mount Vernon High School freshman Clorisha Gamble. Instead, it turned into a day Gamble would like to forget.
Following her appointment, Gamble reported to the attendance office, where she was issued a pass for class. A short time later, she was summoned to the office to speak with Vice Principal Sam Shuman about the shirt she was wearing.
Gamble said that as soon as she walked toward Shuman’s office, he began to shake his head and told her the top was inappropriate.
She was wearing an orange Mount Vernon T-shirt with the sleeves and part of the torso cut out. Underneath was a tank top. The look is popular with athletes and typical high school students, Gamble said.
“My kids don’t get out the door in clothes I don’t agree with,” said Gamble’s father, Chris, who had no problems with how his daughter was dressed on Monday.
Shuman refused to comment on any particular incident, and spoke only of the school’s dress code policy.
“Our dress code does not allow sleeveless shirts or anything showing armpits or even more [body parts] with girls,” Shuman said.
Gamble and her mother, Teresa, said the sleeves of her shirt completely covered her shoulders and the tank top offered coverage to her torso.
According to the student dress code section of the Student Handbook, “All articles of clothing should cover shoulders, cleavage and midriffs. …”
It further states that students wearing inappropriate clothing “will be sent home to change or held out of assigned classes until dress is appropriate for school.”
According to Gamble, Shuman gave her a lime green shirt that states the wearer wore inappropriate clothes to school. She said she was never given any other option and never given the opportunity to call her parents.
Shuman said students are given a choice to wear the lime green shirt, spend the day in time out or wait in time out until parents can bring more appropriate attire.
Clorisha said she donned the shirt, and, feeling humiliated and hurt, went into the girl’s restroom and called her mother on her cell phone.
“She was hysterical and sobbing. I could hardly understand what she was saying,” Teresa said.
“I don’t feel it was right that he just made me wear the shirt and not get any other options,” Gamble said.
Chris said he was distraught to see his daughter so upset. The sight of her in the lime green shirt made him understand why she felt the way she did.
“The school says it is following the rules they set forth in the agenda,” Teresa said. “I want the school to have to remove the shirts. That’s not part of the agenda.”
Teresa said part of her frustrations stem from a comment school officials made while talking about the incident.
“They told us they can’t get every child [breaking the rules] all the time,” Teresa said. “If you are going to enforce a rule, you have to enforce it across the board. If there are written rules, then you have to enforce them based on what’s written, and they didn’t follow the rules.”
Since the incident, Gamble said she has had time to talk with fellow students about what happened and about wearing the lime green shirt.
“There are people against you and for you. I’ve had graduating seniors telling me they are behind me and that should have never happened,” Gamble said.