Is this too much for a Year 12 formal?
By SAMANTHA TURNBULL and ZOE SATHERLEY
TEACHER Greg Miller was prepared to take the shirt off his own back so student Dylan Carpenter could participate in his Year 12 formal celebrations.
The Dean of Students at Trinity Catholic College Lismore said he tried everything to convince the 17-yearold to swap his furry, purple tiger-striped coat and large hat for a proper shirt and tie after school principal Brother Peter decided he was inappropriately dressed.
Dylan, who was accompanied by his mother, Ruth Carpenter, of Bangalow, was barred from taking part in the presentation ceremony at the formal at Lismore Workers Club on Friday night.
The Year 12 student said his outfit, which took him and his mother months to create, was not designed to be offensive or even as any type of statement.
"I wasn't dressed as anyone or anything, I just wanted to wear something fun because I'm not a suit and tie person," he said.
"There were never any rules saying you wouldn't be allowed into the formal if you weren't dressed appropriately. I was prepared to take off my hat or coat, or not go on stage to get my award, but I never expected to be turned away.
"When I arrived all of the teachers gave me thumbs up and said I looked good, then Brother Peter (the school principal) sent Mr Miller over to order me away because he thought I was making a mockery of the night."
Dylan's mother said she was devastated: "I don't understand it. Dylan was a good student, he paid his fees, he's well-behaved, he wasn't drunk or drugged. Who cares if he wasn't wearing a suit? They let in another boy who was wearing a bright pink suit ? what's the difference?"
Mr Miller yesterday stressed the school had been more than fair in dealing with the incident.
"I twice offered to give Dylan my own shirt and tie, but he said he didn't want to wear them," Mr Miller said.
"Even though his pants were inappropriate I was prepared to let him get away with wearing those, just so he could be part of the presentation ceremony."
When Dylan refused to change outfits, Mr Miller told him he was welcome to come back after the presentations were over ? dressed as he was ? and join his fellow students for the evening meal and dance.
Dylan and his mother declined the offer and asked for a refund of their $80 tickets.
"We are very happy to give them their money back," Mr Miller said.
"We did not want to exclude them and tried very hard to find a way to avoid that outcome, but the students were clearly told on several occasions prior to the event what the dress standards were."
School principal Brother Peter said the school had done everything in its power to ensure Dylan was able to attend the graduation ceremony, but that the issue of dress code was an important one and that Dylan's attire was offensive to some people.
"Our college has high standards right through from behaviour and uniforms to hair styles," he said.
"We don't relax them for social functions but rather highlight them and expect them to be adhered to."
He said students at Trinity were renowned across the State for their creativity, individuality and leadership.
"And we encourage that within a disciplined approach, but we wouldn't accept anarchy," Brother Peter said.
"Within that disciplined approach there is room for all sorts of possibilities for students to develop their own talents and personality in a positive way."