Target: Charlie Van Zant, Jr., Superintendent Clay County Schools
Goal: Stop school from using shame suit as discipline for dress code violations
High school is stressful as it is, so being the new kid in class carries added weight. It’s hard to live up to standards set by classmates you are just meeting. Kids feel like everything they do is being judged by their peers. Little did one girl realize that it would be her high school itself that would judge her and set her up for ridicule simply because they thought her skirt was too short.
Fifteen-year-old Miranda Larkin chose a cute outfit to wear on the third day to her new school, Oakleaf High School in Orange Park, Florida, after transferring from out of state. The cute top and black skirt were comfortable and made her feel confident as she walked in for the day of lessons. Then, from across the hall, a teacher pointed her out and claimed that Miranda was in violation of dress code because her skirt was too short. The skirt was just above the knees. As Miranda was new, she was unaware this skirt violated any regulations the school had in place. She was promptly sent to the school nurse where she was given a pair of red sweatpants and a bright yellow shirt with the words ‘dress code violation’ in large black letters covering the whole of the shirt front.
Rightly so, Miranda was embarrassed and upset. She told high school staff that her grandmother would come get her but was answered with the threat of suspension if that happened. Miranda went through the day in the suit, finally being able to go home early to avoid further embarrassment. Understandably, Miranda broke out in hives because of the stress.
In their opinion, the Clay County School District enforces the dress code to create a distraction-free environment for students to absorb their learning. How having a student singled out in obvious disciplinary action provides a distraction-free environment is a question yet to be answered. The school district states that students guilty of dress code violations are given the option of suspension, being able to call someone to bring them a change of clothes, or they can wear the sweats and tee shirt. Miranda was not given an option and was told to put on the suit.
Discipline in high school is necessary but to have students wear a suit, making their punishment obvious to anyone they come across is ludicrous. Akin to having someone wear a scarlet letter, this school needs to know that the time for shaming punishment is long past and that they immediately need to stop using this shame suit. Sign below so they know they need to banish this practice.
Dear Mr. Van Zant,
I realize in any high school there must be a certain level of discipline but your school district’s administration of a ‘shame suit’ for dress code violations is antiquated and extreme.
Your policy came to my attention when Miranda Larkin, a new student in your school, was forced to wear red sweats and a bright yellow shirt displaying her infraction. While she may have indeed worn a skirt too short, the public shaming of a student to their peers and their teachers is an outdated method of discipline. As a superintendent, you must be aware of the psychological stresses that high school puts on the youth; why then amplify this through public humiliation? You must immediately stop using this shame suit as a form of punishment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Public Domain by Jimlaneyjr via Wikimedia Commons