Daughter Gets In Trouble At School For ‘Inappropriate’ Clothes, And Mom’s Letter To Principal Is Going Viral

Dress code affects is a headache for everyone involved.

They’ve been a bone of contention between parents, teaching staff, and everyone in between. It’s often, unrealistic. Ridiculous even. And it’s crazy how much children suffer for it.

So, when  Dr. Catherine Pearlman’s 13-year old daughter was dress coded two days in a row, she decided to give them a piece of her mind.

A common rule is to wear shorts longer than your fingertips.

A lot of public schools have this unfair rule (imagine a tall kid with long arms complying with that). And when the 13-year old was dress coded twice, the mother had enough.

Facebook | Catherine Guggenheimer Pearlman


Seeing as nothing worked, she addressed the school directly.

Dear Middle School Principal:

Thank you for sending a note home for the second day in a row to say my daughter was dressed inappropriately for school. I’d like to offer an additional thank you for forcing her to change into large mesh shorts that have been worn by only god knows who and potentially never washed.

To reward you for treating my daughter with such concern, I am cordially inviting you to take my daughter shopping.

Here are the specifications you have to work with. I wish you loads of luck.

She is 5’7” and 13 years old. Built more like her father, she has exceptionally long legs and arms.

She doesn’t like anything pink or purple or frilly.

She won’t wear pants because she gets overheated easily. Trust me I’ve seen this. It will cause a scene in the school yard.

She absolutely will not wear a dress either.

Did you think she was done? Nope. There’s more.

No item of clothing can have a logo visible because to her that’s not cool. She will however, wear any type of superhero, Green Day or USFL T-shirt if you can find them. You might be able to try for an occasional Beatles reference but that’s touch and go.

Now, don’t forget that you will have to find something in the stores that also meets with your dress code requirements. Here are the tricky areas that are most difficult to avoid. As per your policy she cannot wear tank tops. Shorts and skirts must not extend to the end of the fingertips (This is a toughie.)

So, if I were you (and I’m glad I’m not) I’d focus on the shorts first. She has very long fingers which seems to make finding shorts that won’t get her sent to the principal’s office impossible (On the bright side the piano teacher says those fingers are an asset.). I’d schedule a few afternoons and weekends for this endeavor. I can tell you from experience that just heading to the mall, Target and the outlets won’t cut it. Not much for her there. I’ve already checked.

One last point: please try to stay within a reasonable budget. We can’t spend a fortune on her wardrobe. She is still growing after all.

I thank you endlessly for taking on this chore. What a relief for me.


Sick Of The Dress Code Mom

She posted the letter NBC News’ TODAY Parenting Team community blog and got a surge of support.

But there were also those who were a little less than happy with the letter.


Regardless of who you side with, there is a definite problem with US dress code.

Maybe take a page out of Europe’s handbook and use uniforms.


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  1. I’m sorry but school dress codes are not made to cater to spoiled children. There is a dress code for a reason, it was given out at the start of the year. If you had a problem with it you should have reported it then, gone to a PTA meeting then, written a letter then. Before you child gets in trouble for wearing clothes that are against the rules. I mean what’s going to happen when the girl has a job? Is she going to have mommy write a letter to HR saying that the uniform / required outfit is too stuffy and ask to let her wear what she wants? I’m sorry that’s just selfish. I mean look at the teachers, they have to be appropriately dressed and don’t complain as much as all these self entitled kids. I mean having to wear a suit with a jacket and tie… that’s the dress code for the job. Shorts are not an option at all, no matter the length. I guess this is just a good lesson for the girl that she can’t have things her way just because she feels like it or does not like the rules.

  2. “Seeing as nothing worked, she addressed the school directly”. What exactly did she previously try before writing this letter? Did she explain that rules are rules, and while we don’t have to like them all, they’re set forth for a reason so we have to respect them? Nope. Just write a letter to the principal explaining that instead of enforcing rules, you’re ok with your daughter believing they shouldn’t apply to her because she’s “picky”. Sorry. Sometimes being a parent sucks. Kid doesn’t want to eat because he’s picky? At some point we have to suck it up, be the parents and “force feed our child”. I’m with ^^^^^^^^. This is setting your child up for some serious real world disspointments.

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