An 8-year-old girl in Washington County, Tenn., has missed a total of 24 days of school after repeatedly being suspended for emitting a “foul odor.”
"They just say it's a foul odor," the girls’ mother, Krystal Hensley, told WJHL.com. "She takes a bath every day, but they ask her when the last time she took a bath was and she don't remember. She's been to the doctor and it's not a medical problem. They send her home at least once a month. You go to school to learn, not to be sent home."
Teachers and students at her school have complained that they cannot concentrate with the smell. The first suspension notice from the school stated, “If corrective measures are not taken then suspensions will continue."
The girl was repeatedly sent home in October, December, February, and again last week. School officials cited various reasons: "Did not bathe yesterday or today, Could not remember the last time she took a bath, and sleeps in clothes."
While Hensley is eager to get her daughter back to school, Washington County schools have a method they follow in a case like this.
"When children appear to be dirty or have excessive body odor generally the teacher will have a conference with the child or ask the nurse or guidance counselor to discuss the issue with the parent to determine the possible cause,” Washington County Director of Schools Ron Dykes told WJHL.com.
“There are rare instances when a medical problem is involved, but more often than not it is simply poor hygiene and the child is living in troubling conditions.”
Dykes did not comment specifically on the case of Hensley’s daughter.
Hensley said the Department of Children Services did investigate the situation at one time.
"We do not currently have an open case," said DCS Communications Director Molly Sudderth on the matter.
There are currently no other solutions to the problem, which does not appear to be under the girl’s control. The issue is apparently extremely rare.
"In those cases, they are very extreme and to be quite frank the odor is so overpowering and extremely offensive to other children and adults so some sort of home bound program is used or the child will be removed temporarily from the school until the family complies," Dykes said.