Controversy over a San Antonio high school’s dress code policy erupted after a 17-year-old girl was pulled out of class for wearing a dress that administrators said was too short.
Sophia Abuabara was partway through a long day at school involving three major exams when administrators removed the junior from class because they said the hemline of her dress was too short, her mother, Rosey, tells PEOPLE.
“My daughter never calls me unless something’s wrong that she can’t take care of,” Rosey, 51, says. “She was crying, and she’s not a huge crier. I thought I could go in and explain that she has these exams and that we’d be more careful in the future — though I don’t know how much more careful we could be, because she was within the limits of the code.”
Rosey told the principal at Tom C. Clark public high school, Dr. Jerry Woods, that she had measured Sophia’s dress to ensure that it came up “no more than four inches above the top of the kneecap,” in accordance with the dress code, but Dr. Woods disagreed about the length, according to Rosey.
“I don’t see how they can say that each principal has autonomy to say if it is or isn’t within code — if it’s the correct length it’s in code,” she says. “When I buy her clothes, I have a little tape measure in my purse, and we measure them.”
“He was pretty graphic in saying that boys could be taking pictures of her as she’s climbing up the stairs, or making lewd comments. It was all very sexual in nature,” Rosey says. “Like, ‘I’m helping you by protecting her from these sexually driven boys,’ to which I’m like, ‘Why don’t you teach the boys not to be like that? Why is it the girls who have to comply but the boys are okay?’ But he just dismissed that.”
According to Rosey, when Dr. Woods considered the conversation over, Rosey said the matter was unresolved — at which point Dr. Woods had her removed from school property.
Clark High School has not returned PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Sophia, who is at the top of her class and class president, was able to eventually return to the classroom without changing clothes. But Rosey says her daughter’s concentration was lost.
“She flunked her physics test, and she says she thinks it’s because of what happened,” Rosey says. “She said she was crying after school, and people thought it was because she was coded, but she said she was crying because of the test.”
“Her education is first, those tests were first. For something like that to mess with her head is really upsetting.”
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Rosey believes that Dr. Woods should be removed as principal, and intends to take her fight against him and the dress code to the next school board meeting. She’s also considering consulting with a lawyer.
“It’s a sexist policy,” she says. “They just shame girls for wearing these clothes, and the pull them out of class for hours waiting to talk to them, wasting class time.”