It was the first day of school, and all the students at Glenbard East High School in Lombard Illinois spent a little extra time choosing their first-day-back-to-school outfits, feeling the pressure to impress their peers.
Ashlyn Mroz, a sophomore, was among them and after giving it some thought, she landed on a simple black tank top with jeans that she had worn the year before.
However, these optimistic students were not prepared for the confrontation they would face from school officials later on that day.
Mroz was enjoying lunch with her friends when the new dean interrupted them and unexpectedly issued her a dress-code violation for showing bare shoulders. The violation was completely out-of-the-blue.
“It was really embarrassing. She came up to me at my lunch table in front of everyone and said it very loudly. I thought that it was ridiculous that I was dress coded on my first day back to school for something that I wore all last year,” Mroz told TODAY Style.
There were several young female students at Glenbard East High School who received similar dress code violations that day on August 14th; school officials claimed that their outfits violated the dress code policy, but apparently, neither the students nor the parents were informed of any changes and found the discipline unfair.
Different Rules for Boys and for Girls
“Ashlyn wore similar tank tops last year with no issue, and the dress code does not specifically address strap width on tank tops,” Mroz’s mother, Donna Mroz, told TODAY Style.
According to Glenbard East High School’s handbook, both students and parents are to be made aware of any changes made, but none of the parents were notified. In addition, it seems that, according to Mroz, the rules for males and females are inequal.
“It made me really mad that boys who were wearing tank tops and muscle shirts didn’t get dress coded on Wednesday. It was obvious that they were singling out the girls,” she said.
After Mroz received her violation over lunch, the new dean told her she was to wear an orange shirt to cover up, but she refused to put it on. Junior Chloe Lynch was also reprimanded and asked to cover up.
“When the dean approached me, she told me I was going to be dress coded, because of my shoulders being exposed. I had never had an issue with this before, so I respectfully asked why this was being enforced on the first day of school without any warning,” Lynch told TODAY Style. “She told me it was due to boys looking at me, and boys looking at other girls.”
At this, Lynch was baffled, so she asked the dean to explain further.
“I proceeded to ask her why that was my issue, why it was my priority to make sure boys weren’t looking at me. I never got a clear answer, it was just implied that boys have provocative mindsets, and it’s a distraction to them. I have no issues with dress code policies, however, when it’s not being enforced on both sides equally it’s just one thing: discrimination.”
According to the school’s principal Shahe Bagdasarian, all students are expected to follow the dress code: “The dress code is intended to support a positive teaching and learning environment. It was not our intent to shame or embarrass any student when addressing the expectations. We apologize to any student who felt shamed or embarrassed as a result of our actions.”
After the negative reaction of both students and parents following the first day of school, Bagdasarian said the administration is reconsidering. “This has prompted us to review our Glenbard East handbook and practices. We are committed to moving ahead with a review process that allows for voices to be heard, perspectives to be respected and a result that ensures equity in the educational setting. We have always and will continue to welcome Glenbard East stakeholders to assist us in empowering our students,” he said.
The administration has, since then, had a gathering with the students to discuss the issue further and plans to host a board meeting very soon. Mroz’s mother says that she will attend and hopes to have a chance to speak up on behalf of students like her daughter.