A Springstead High School senior is asking the Hernando County School Board to make changes to their dress code policy after she was given a verbal warning for wearing a zip-up black jacket over a sleeveless shirt to school.
Tessa Wisloh, 17, said a teacher held her after class on Sept. 3 and asked her to remove her zip-up jacket to see whether she was violating dress code.
"They go, um, you need to remove your jacket," Wisloh told ABC Action News. "And I'm like, excuse me, this is my outfit. I'm not going to take off my jacket. She says, 'We have to check and see if your shirt has sleeves underneath your jacket.'"
"I don't really see the problem in it," Wisloh said. "I thought maybe my book-bag strap had brought my jacket down. But no skin was showing. It was just like this. Nothing had moved."
According to the Hernando County Dress Code Policy, shirts and blouses must be long enough to remain tucked in at all times with no skin visible. Spaghetti straps, tank tops, muscle shirts and shirts with cut-off sleeves are also forbidden. However, dress code policy does not address whether you can wear a cardigan or jacket over it.
ABC Action News went to the Hernando County School District for answers. Dress code policy does not allow a student to wear something over the top of an article of clothing that violates the dress code, said Karen Jordan, a Hernando County School District spokeswoman. That policy is shared with students and families and is posted online, Jordan said.
But Cathy Dofka, director of exceptional student education for Hernando County Schools who helps enforce and interpret the Student Code of Conduct, said as long as students are not showing any skin, jackets and cardigans are OK to wear to school over a sleeveless shirt.
However, Dofka said problems can arise if a student is wearing a sleeveless shirt, which does violate the dress code, with a jacket or cardigan over it and opts to take it off. Dofka said a student's best bet is to not wear a sleeveless shirt so they can remove a jacket with no violation to the school dress code.
However, Wisloh said she had no intention of removing her jacket and feels she should not have received the written warning.
Frank Wisloh, Tessa's father, also said the policy should be clarified at the very least.
"It's a little upsetting as a parent to think that my daughter is now getting harassed at school and asked to remove an article of clothing for something that just seems preposterous," Frank Wisloh said. "We live in Florida. It's 90 some odd degrees and it's hot."
Hernando County School leaders now say they are looking into the written warning Wisloh received. They said if you are a parent concerned about whether your child's outfit is appropriate, contact your school's administration.