A high school student from Kentucky has been arrested after an altercation over her dress code protest t-shirt.
On August 23, 15-year-old Isabella Messer was pulled from class at Hopkinsville High School and accused of violating the dress code.
The situation escalated and resulted in Isabella being charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer.
A police report states Isabella was ‘uncooperative’ and ‘loud’ in the school lobby. She reportedly pulled away multiple times while being handcuffed. When the school’s resource officer tried to take Isabella’s phone, she allegedly kicked him in the shin.
Later the same day, Isabella appeared before a local judge and was taken to McCracken Regional Juvenile Detention Center. She remained at McCracken until August 28 and has since been placed under house arrest.
Isabella’s mother, Theresa Rucks, feels the school have gone ‘overboard’ when dealing with this situation. She claims Isabella was ‘peaceful protesting’ strict new uniform rules which prohibited ‘exposed shoulders’ and ‘see-through white clothes’.
Isabella had been wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan, ‘Do my shoulders turn you on?’ On the back of the t-shirt, the slogan continued, ‘If so, go back to the 1920’s’.
According to Theresa, the t-shirt was on the bigger size, and covered Isabella from ‘neck to elbows and to her bottom’.
Theresa told the Lexington Herald Leader how parents had not been told about dress code changes for the 2018-2019 school year before classes began.
She claims Isabella kicking the resource officer was an instinctive reaction, due to the officer’s alleged forceful handling and her daughter’s training in taekwondo.
Theresa told UNILAD:
She was pulled out of her 4th period and when she got in the hall way she tried to call me and they tried taking her phone away and she jerked away from them and screamed at them and that’s where they got her for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
After she was in cuffs and in the office of Ingram then Mr Howton realised she still had her phone behind her and the office came at her again to retrieve her phone and that’s when she put her foot up and made contact with officer Ingram’s shin.
And they didn’t read her her rights until after being cuffed and in the office. They left marks on her neck, chest and arms.
Isabella’s aunt Melinda Rucks wrote the following message of support on Facebook:
A female teacher pulled Bella aside and told her that she felt threatened by the shirt, when Bella explained said it was in her rights to wear it as it is adhering to the dress code.
Not only did the teacher put her hands on her, but she felt the need to call in the police. Instead of calling my sister in law to handle the situation how it should have been, the officer who responded madhandled [sic] my niece and left visible markings on her neck and arms.
She was then sent to a juvenile detention center and is now facing serious charges, all because a school decided that her education was not as important as the comfort of male students and teachers. I am furious and just floored by this situation. I support my niece 100 percent, I stand by her.
In a statement made to the Lexington Herald Leader, the Christian County Public Schools said:
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.
Going forward, Theresa is considering taking legal action against the school in regards to this incident.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.