A 15-year-old teenager who moved from Seattle to Clay County, Florida was forced to wear an ill-fitting, brightly colored “shame suit” to classes after she unknowingly violated the school’s skirt-length policy on her first day.
The Washington Post reported that Miranda Larkin’s family moved to Florida just eight days before the first day of school. Larkin dressed for classes without realizing that her black skirt was an inch too short for Oakleaf High School’s dress code.
After first period, a teacher flagged her down and said, “Your skirt’s too short.”
The school’s dress code says that female students’ skirts can be no higher than three inches above the knee. Larkin’s was four, so she was sent to the school nurse’s office and told to put on a neon yellow oversized T-shirt and bright red sweatpants emblazoned with the words, “Dress code violation.”
“The school has said this is to embarrass you,” said Miranda to ABC News. “It’s supposed to embarrass you so you don’t do it again.”
Larkin’s mother, Dianna Larkin called the outfit a “shame suit.”
A representative of the school district told ABC that students who violate the dress code are allowed to choose one of three options; to have a parent bring them a change of clothes, to stay in their clothes and take in-school suspension or to put on the t-shirt and sweatpants.
Miranda Larkin said she was only offered one option, to put on the humiliating outfit.
Dianna Larkin feels that the school was out of line by making a private disciplinary matter into an exercise in public shaming.
“I feel that by putting a kid in an outfit that says what they did wrong across their chest and down their leg is taking their private records and making them public and that’s a clear violation of their privacy rights,” she said.
She has filed a complaint under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
The Clay County School District told USA Today that the clownish outfit is a way of getting students who violate dress code back into class “as quickly as possible.”
A lawyer for the district said in a statement to USA Today that the kids should be happy they aren’t wearing prisoner orange, writing, “(The outfit) is not displaying a discipline record to the public. If we took off the words the other students would still know that the prison orange T-shirts were for dress code violations. I think that the practice is OK.”
Watch video about this story, embedded below via USA Today:
[image of Miranda Larkin via screencap]