Society

Florida Mother Says School Violated Daughter's FERPA Rights By Making Her Wear "Shame Suit"

| by Amanda Schallert

A Florida mother is planning to file a lawsuit alleging that her daughter’s high school did not protect her federally-protected education records after school officials forced her to wear brightly-colored clothes with “Dress Code Violation” written on them.

Miranda Larkin, 15, reportedly went to Oakleaf High School one morning with a black skirt that hung a few inches above her knees, according to First Coast News.

As Miranda was walking down the hall’s on the third day classes were in session, a teacher reportedly harped on her for violating the school’s dress code.

"She just points at me from across the hall, and says your skirt is too short," Miranda said.

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Then, she was brought to the school nurse and allegedly forced to change into a bright-yellow t-shirt and bright-red sweats. The punishment was made more obvious because “DRESS CODE VIOLATION” was printed across the t-shirt.

The Clay County School District allows students to stay in their clothes and face suspension, wear designated sweats and a t-shirt and go to class or arrange for different clothes to be delivered for them if they violate a school’s dress code, according to a district spokesperson

However, Miranda said she was not told or given all the options that she was supposed to be provided.

Dianna Larkin, Miranda’s mother, said that she and her daughter had recently moved from Seattle to the Florida neighborhood. She added that she thinks school officials treated her daughter unfairly and that Miranda’s privacy was violated.

"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," Larkin said. "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."

Larkin said she plans to file a complaint based on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that protects students’ education records.

But a school board attorney has disagreed with Larkin’s reasoning, saying that making a student wear specific clothing is not the same thing as making a student’s private records available.

“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 he or 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,” the attorney said in a statement.

School officials have said that the purpose of the outfit is not simply to humiliate a student, it is to get them back in the classroom as soon as they can after a dress code violation.

Source: First Coast News