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Dress code controversy ends in assault charges for Tennessee teen

Posted: 10:02 PM, Sep 04, 2018
Updated: 2018-09-05 16:40:37Z

HOPKINSVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee family says it is considering legal action against the school after their sophomore daughter was reprimanded for two dress code violations, the second of which escalated into an assault charge filed against the student.

The mother, Theresa Rucks, says everything started a couple weeks ago when her daughter Isabella Messer wore an off-the-shoulder shirt to Hopkinsville High School.

She was cited for violating the school dress code.  

"To me, the shirt was not inappropriate," said Rucks. "It was very stylish, very appropriate, I mean, you weren't able to see anything."

In a protest of sorts, Isabella's mom got a custom t-shirt printed, which Isabella wore to school in the days ahead. The t-shirt read on the front: "Do my shoulders turn you on?"

"I figured, you know, we'd make a statement, and there it is!" Rucks said.

That statement got Isabella a second dress code violation, and a school resource officer was called after staff said she was being "uncooperative."

"I would really really like an apology for my daughter, I mean that's the big thing because she didn't do anything wrong," Rucks said. "Until she raised her foot."

That so-called foot "raising," something Rucks attributes to Isabella's Tae-kwon-do training, landed Isabella a charge of third-degree assault against a police officer, when the officer said she kicked him on his right shin.

But Isabella's mom says it shouldn't have even gotten that far wearing her t-shirt, or even the original shirt that got Isabella in trouble.

"I don't feel like a female should have to cover up because they are 'distracting the boys,'" Rucks said.  "Why not teach the boys that women are not a piece of meat, I mean, they're not a tool, that is my big thing here."

The family says they're considering legal action against the school.

The Christian County Board of Education released a statement to NewsChannel 5, saying:

"All Christian County Public Schools have a dress code for students. Our students along with their parents and guardians, are aware of dress code rules and the code's enforcement."

The school district said it could not comment further due to privacy issues.