FLORIDA – A Jacksonville mother is accusing her daughter’s school of bullying.
She says administrators forced her teen to wear a so-called “shame suit” after she violated the dress code.
Miranda Larkin was wearing a pleaded skirt on the third day of school when she says she got “coded.” Her skirt, under Oakleaf High School standards, is supposed to be at her knee or longer.
Miranda says a teacher sent her to the nurse’s office to change in a so-called “shame suit” – an oversized pair of red sweatpants and a neon yellow skirt – both with the words “dress code violation” on them.
The teen was mortified.
“I couldn’t stand thought of people staring at me because I was wearing some insane outfit,” Miranda said.
Miranda broke out into hives and called her mom from the bathroom crying.
“I actually had to get her medication for the hives. She was completely devastated,” Dianna Larkin said. “I don’t know of a better word – she was completely humiliated and devastated and for a mom, that’s awful.”
A spokesman for the school district says dress code violators have three options: an immediate in-school suspension, put on the “violation clothes and go back to class, or have parents drop off proper clothing. But he says the third option isn’t always presented to the students.
Miranda says she was only told to put on the embarrassing clothes.
“I said my grandma is going to come get me and she says, ‘Well, if you’re grandma comes and picks you up, we’re going to have to suspend you. We’re going to have to put you in two-day in-school suspension,’” Miranda said.
An attorney for the school district released a statement that says in part: “None of us see this as a FERPA violation, as it is not a personally identifiable student record. Additionally, it is not displaying a discipline record to the public. If we put the kid on work detail, all students would know that he/she is being disciplined. If we put [the student] in ISS [in-school suspension], same result – Saturday school, same result. Community service – same result.
“I don’t have a problem with punishing kids. If you don’t like the rule – tough. You follow the rule. You have to get punished if you don’t, but punishment shouldn’t involve humiliation, it shouldn’t ever. You wouldn’t do that to an adult, why would you do that to a kid,” Dianna Larkin said.
The school district spokesman says students and parents are reminded of the dress code in five different ways at the beginning of the school year, and the purpose of the punishment is for students to miss as little class as possible and create a distraction-free learning environment.
But Dianna Larkin says this isn’t the way to do it. She’s seeking legal counsel and filing a complaint with the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act and she encourages parents of other dress code violators to do the same.