The opening scene of “Footloose” — the 1984 version, not the craptastic 2011 version — was basically recreated at a Florida high school this week except instead of a ban on dancing and rock music it’s a ban on short skirts, and instead of senior Kevin Bacon it’s sophomore Miranda Larkin.
Also, the ending here is completely different.
The 2014 story played out at Oakleaf High School in the suburbs of Jacksonville, reports local ABC affiliate WJXX.
Larkin, 15, moved from Seattle, Wash. to Orange Park, Fla. late this summer. For her third day at her new high school, she chose to wear a black skirt that ended around three or four inches above her knee.
An Oakleaf High teacher spotted Larkin in the outfit and charged the teenager with violating the school’s dress code, which requires that dresses come down to the knee.
“She just points at me from across the hall and says, ‘your skirt is too short,'” Larkin told WJXX.
According to Larkin, her next stop was the school nurse’s office. She said the nurse ordered her to put on a frumpy, neon yellow shirt and a frumpy pair of bright red sweatpants. Both the shirt and the pants were festooned with the words “DRESS CODE VIOLATION” in impressively large font.
“She put on the outfit in the bathroom and looked at herself in the mirror and just broke down,” Larkin’s mother, Dianna Larkin, told the ABC affiliate. “She started sobbing and broke out in hives.”
The mad mother characterized the school-mandated duds as a “shame suit.” She also believes school employees violated her daughter’s rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
“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,” Dianna Larkin told the station.
“I’m not a rescue mom,” she added, according to ABC News. “I really do believe in punishing my kids if they do something wrong, but this is not about punishing kids. This is about humiliation.”
School district officials tell a different version of events.
A district representative said students who violate the dress code have three options: They can wear the garish garb specially made for dress code violators, they can wear the clothes they have on but languish in in-school suspension or they can coordinate with someone to get some different clothes.
The sophomore said she was given just one option, not three — though she was eventually allowed to leave school. It’s not clear if any students saw her in the yellow and red clothing.
Whatever the case, an attorney for the school board said school officials believe the punishment for dress code violations does not violate any privacy rights.
“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/she is being disciplined,” the attorney explained. “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.”
A school official also noted that the clothing for dress code flouters used to be pretty basic, but those clothes kept disappearing.
The clothing chosen and worn by high school girls churns out quite a bit of news around the country. The last dustup before this Florida fracas occurred in late August when school district superintendent Ronda Bass dealt with a fashion furor at Noble High School in tiny Noble, Okla. by asking some girls to bend over to check the lengths of their shorts. (RELATED: Superintendent Who Doesn’t ‘Want To See Anyone’s Ass Hanging Out’ Gives High School Girls Bend-Over Check)
“If you’re not comfortable with bending over, we might have a problem,” Bass explained.