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After 3 back-to-back dress code punishments, mom pulls 11-year-old out of school

A Minnesota mom pulled her 11-year-old daughter out of school after she says she was forced to wear dirty gym clothes — three days in a row.
/ Source: TODAY

A Minnesota mom has yanked her 11-year-old daughter out of school after she says she was forced to wear dirty gym clothes because of a dress code violation — three days in a row.

Lacey Farrell told TODAY Style that she still isn't sure how her daughter Lily violated the dress code at Discovery Middle School in Alexandria, Minn. But mostly, she's angry that when it happened, she wasn't notified.

"My biggest problem is, that's my child, and if something was going on, and she was wearing inappropriate clothing, I would have liked to know, from teacher to parent, what was going on," Farrell said.

This is the outfit Lacey Farrell's daughter, Lily, wore on the third day in a row that she'd gotten in trouble for violating the dress code, according to Farrell.Courtesy of Lacey Farrell

Three days in a row last month, Lily, who is in the sixth grade and has dyslexia, was told by a teacher that her clothing was inappropriate and showed too much skin — but wasn't told exactly what rule each outfit violated, her mom said.

The teacher made her daughter change into her used gym clothes each day and moved her desk from the back of the classroom up front, to sit next to her, Farrell continued. Each time, Lily changed back into her regular clothes before she went home, so her mom never knew what was happening.

"On the third day (Sept. 28), she came home and actually told me what had been going on the past few days," Farrell said. "I was very confused. Because if this true, why aren't people calling me? Why wouldn't her teacher let me know what's going on?"

The teacher's treatment gave Lily anxiety and also contributed to bullying — one boy called her a "dirty slut," Farrell said.

Farrell recently pulled the 11-year-old out of Discovery Middle School.Courtesy of Lacey Farrell

The mom also doesn't understand what was wrong with her Lily’s clothes. Her daughter had worn a similar outfit each day: pants and a short-sleeved shirt, she said.

"She has a lot of clothes like mine,” Farrell said. “I don't wear shorts at all. I dress like an older person! Her clothes, if they're wrong, then obviously I need to fix it, but I didn't see anything that was inappropriate."

When her daughter came home that third day, Farrell snapped a photo of her outfit — jeans and a white T-shirt — and sent it to her ex-husband's mother, Lily's grandmother, to get her opinion.

"I said, 'Do you think her clothes are inappropriate? Are you seeing something I'm not seeing?'" Farrell said. "She was not very happy and posted on Facebook."

That post went viral, prompting a local news story, and many comments from supports who criticized the school's actions.

When reached by TODAY, an employee at Discovery Middle School referred us to the school district, which sent the following statement.

"Federal and state law protects students and parents," Julie Critz, superintendent of Alexandria Public Schools, said. "Therefore, the data practices act prevents us from telling our side of the story — in this case, a story told by one student."

The district hasn’t responded to further requests for clarification about Lily’s outfit or its policy related to dress code violations. In a statement separate from the one we received, they did tell the Echo Press newspaper that information about the dress code is included in the student agenda book, which every student should have.

Farrell has since pulled her daughter out of Discovery, and is home-schooling her.