Student on the Hot Seat for Wearing Sweatpants to School
Sophomore at odds with school's dress code, missed nine days of school.
When 16-year-old Stephanie Milligan wakes up in the morning, she'd like to head off to Lakewood High School, where she attends classes, gets good grades and has a number of friends. But after falling down a flight of stairs and injuring her back on Thanksgiving Day, she has missed classes for nine-straight school days.
But it's not because she cannot get around.
The issue is sweatpants — and whether Stephanie should be allowed to violate the school's dress code to wear them. The code is clear: "Oversize, saggy, baggy or tight fitting clothing will not be permitted."
Lakewood High School Principal William Wagner said there are medical exceptions that a student would be allowed to wear sweatpants, but he questions the severity of Stephanie's injury and her need to wear sweatpants.
At first, Stephanie's doctor sent a note to the school asking permission that the teen be able to wear loose-fitting clothing.
The school received another note from Stephanie's doctor asking that she be able to wear sweatpants or yoga pants specifically. The purpose of the loose-fitting clothing was to reduce any restriction around the injured area, according to the doctor's note.
Wagner explained that school officials try to work with doctors in an effort to help injured students.
"I don't write prescriptions for them and they should not write prescriptions to circumvent our dress code," said Wagner. "They don't understand what the dress code is all about or how it is imposed."
He reiterated that initial orders specified only loose-fitting clothing.
"There is lots of loose-fitting clothing that aren't sweatpants," Wagner added. "We have kids who are heavy, kids in wheelchairs and kids with a number of issues and they are in compliance with the dress code. When we shared that with the parent, we had (Stephanie) go home and change and the parent was unhappy with it."
He said Stephanie returned to school again wearing sweat pants and was again sent home for violating the school's dress code.
"After explaining about the dress code to her mother and about the loose fitting clothes, she decided to keep her daughter home," Wagner said, noting that he hopes Stephanie can return to school soon because he's concerned that her absence may begin to have a negative affect on her grades.
The debacle has not sat well with Stephanie's mother, Mary Hayghe.
"Some may think I have an axe to grind, but I just don't think it's fair," she said. "I believe they decided to take her and make an example out of her," she said, adding that other students at Lakewood High School are allowed to wear sweatpants with out being reprimanded.
Hayghe is considering legal action against the school. Meanwhile, Stephanie has missed nine days of school.
"I'm really outraged because they are practically denying me my education because of a pair of sweatpants," Stephanie said.