CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – An Oakleaf High School student who was in violation of the school's dress code got a punishment her mother calls bullying.
Fifteen-year-old Miranda Larkin had to wear a bright yellow shirt and red sweatpants reading "Dress code violator."
Oakleaf's dress code says skirts have to be at the knee or longer. Larkin said a teacher stopped her in the hallway after second period on the third day of school (wearing the outfit pictured below) and told her to go into the nurse's office. Larkin said the nurse told her to put the outfit on.
She was mortified.
"I was feeling really stressed," Larkin said. "I was freaking out. I was like, 'I don't know what I'm going to do.' I couldn't stand the thought of people staring at me because I was wearing some insane outfit."
Larkin broke out in hives and called her mom from the bathroom crying.
"I actually had to get her medication for the hives," Dianna Larkin said. "She was completely devastated. I don't know a better word. She was completely humiliated and devastated and for a mom, that's awful."
A spokesman for the Clay County School District said the intent of the punishment is for students to miss as little class as possible and create a distraction-free environment.
He said students and parents are reminded of the dress code in five different ways at the beginning of the school year.
MORE INFO: Clay County Code of Student Conduct (PDF)
The spokesman said students who violate the dress code are given three options:
- Put on the neon outfit and go back to class;
- If they don't want to put on the outfit, they can go to in-school suspension;
- Or parents can bring them a new outfit, an option that the spokesman said isn't always presented to the students.
Miranda Larkin said she was only given one option -- to wear the outfit.
"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 Larkin said.
Dianna Larkin plans to file a complaint with FERPA, the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and wants other parents to do the same.
"I don't have a problem with punishing kids," Dianna Larkin said. "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?
"Has it never occurred to anyone that some kid may go through his day being humiliated, laughed at, made fun of, and go home and try to kill himself? Has that not occurred to anyone? I mean, it's occurred to me. It occurred to her. I can't believe it didn't occur to any of these teachers or administrators, and I'm the only one fighting right now. I'm hoping that this is going to cause other people to fight. I really want them to fight. It's the right thing to do."
An attorney for the school district released this statement that reads, 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 in ISS, same result. Saturday school, same result. Community service, same result."
The spokesman said the school district is open to solutions to the dress code violation.