Hickory Ridge High School Faces SM Firestorm After Suspending, Near-Arresting Honor Student Over Dress Code

There are many ways for an honor student with a 4.4 GPA to get suspended in high school. There’s drug dealing, complaints of bullying, and other serious offenses. For a senior at Hickory Ridge High School in Harrisburg, North Carolina, however, it was just matter of what shirt she wore. Last Wednesday, the teen’s top offended the school’s principal so much, she was nearly arrested, suspended from attending her own graduation, and is now facing possible expulsion.

The suspended honor student, Summer, has gone to the media with her story after she was given a ten-day suspension by the principal of the school, Michelle Cline. Since the suspension period would cover her graduation date, Summer believed that the school is effectively putting her college future at risk. Considering that the teen’s suspension was caused by a dress code violation, Summer’s apprehension and reaction seem justified.

The incident, which happened on Wednesday, was triggered by Summer’s off-shoulder shirt, which is a violation of the school’s dress code. According to the teen, she was approached by the principal in the cafeteria, who asked if she had a jacket to cover up her inappropriate shirt. Since Summer had no jacket with her, one of the teen’s friends lent her one. Despite the honor student hiding her off-shoulder shirt under a zipped-up jacket, however, the principal refused to relent. The teen stated that she was then asked by Cline to head over to the control room, so that she could change, according to a WCNC report.


“I completely understand why a dress code is put into place but I feel like after I put on that jacket, it should have been subdued.”

Summer has had other run-ins with the principal in the past, so much so that the school and her mother have an agreement stating that the administration would not take any disciplinary action against the teen unless her parent were called. Since heading over to the control room pretty much equated to a disciplinary action, Summer refused until her mother was contacted. That was when things started taking a turn for the worse.

Unable to contact her mother, Summer had to head over to the school auditorium, where she was singled out by the principal once more. This time, however, Principal Cline was not alone. She had the school’s security officer with her.

“The SRO was within five feet of me; he had his hand on his gun. The principal said ‘I’m gonna give you an ultimatum. We have tried to call your mother. You either come with me to the control room to change your shirt or we will arrest you.”

According to the teen, the principal instructed the SRO to handcuff the girl. It was at this time that Summer’s mother was finally reached. Hence, no arrest was made. Despite this, however, Summer was nonetheless given a ten-day suspension over insubordination. She was also prohibited from attending any school activities, including her upcoming graduation.

Summer’s mother is planning to appeal the principal’s decision. As for the principal, Summer stated that she is facing the possibility of being expelled. For an honors student with a 4.4 GPA, an expulsion would effectively derail her education, especially since she has already received scholarship offers from universities.

“It’s just sad because I worked so hard for four years to walk across that stage. We have drug dealers walking across that stage, we have sex offenders walking across that stage and then the 4.4 student who showed her shoulders can’t.”

“This is my life, I’m on a pre-med track. A full ride means so much and that is on the line right now.”

The school administration has so far remained quiet about the incident. The social media response to Summer’s story, however, has been massive, with Hickory Ridge High School being subject to a lot of online criticism from netizens. Interestingly, however, articles taking the school’s side have emerged, such as this editorial from the Independent Tribune. According to the Tribune‘s editorial piece, the teen was likely in the wrong during the incident, especially as her non-compliant nature showed that she was probably just a spoiled teenager.

Nevertheless, even the Tribune piece’s comments section has been dominated largely by supporters of the teen, with many stating that while Summer was wrong by wearing the shirt to school, her punishment was far too severe. After all, a dress code violation, or insubordination for that matter, is, by all means, a relatively minor offense compared to more serious violations such as bullying and school-related violence. If any, Summer’s transgression definitely does not seem to be grave enough to warrant risking her college education, and her future for that matter.

[Featured Image by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images]

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