Like many teens her age, 15-year-old Miranda Larkin hoped the first week at her new school would go smoothly. However, a simple skirt deemed “too short” by a teacher quickly landed her in hot water. Larkin’s punishment? She was effectively “branded” by school officials, forced to wear what she calls a “shame suit.”
When 15-year-old Miranda Larkin went to Oakleaf High School in a black skirt about three to four inches above her knees on the third day of school, she didn’t know she was in violation of the dress code.
She says a teacher sent her to the school nurse who said she had to put on a neon yellow T-shirt and bright red sweat pants with the words ‘DRESS CODE VIOLATION’ written across both.
While Larkin will not be suspended, her mother, Dianna Larkin, is not taking the situation lightly and is looking to file a complaint with FERPA, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. She claims her daughter should’ve been disciplined in private, instead of being publicly humiliated in front of her peers.
“She put on the outfit in the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror and just broke down. She started sobbing and broke out in hives,” said Dianna.
“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,” added the teen’s mother.
The school board’s attorney notes that it doesn’t see anything alarming about the policy, stating:
I have given this consideration, looked at FERPA and have even asked other opinions in other districts. None of us see this 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 hi/she is being disciplined. If we put in ISS same result. Saturday school same result. Community service, same result. 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 okay. In Alachua county they have t shirts that say “dress code winner”. What is the difference. As to bullying? I think some parents would say that any consequence is bullying. I see no issue with the practice.
Although students who are in violation of the dress code are usually given a number of options, such as accept ISS (in-school suspension) or request that someone else bring them proper attire, Miranda says she was only presented with one course of action: the Scarlet Letter–style outfit.
Back in my day, teachers (most of who were nuns because, ya know, Catholic school) would’ve had us change into our gym uniforms and/or sent a letter home to my parents. While the P.E. sweats were an obvious indication that “I had been bad”, they didn’t seem to scream “SINNER! DELINQUENT!” as loudly as Larkin’s shameful threads.
Below watch a short report on the incident: