A 15-year-old Kentucky high school student was arrested and jailed after wearing a T-shirt to protest her school’s dress code.
On August 23, Isabella Messer showed up to Hopkinsville High School wearing a custom T-shirt with a message. The front read “Do my shoulders turn you on?” and the back said “If so, return to the 1920’s.”
Isabella’s mother, Theresa Rucks had the shirt made to protest the school’s new dress code policy, which banned “exposed shoulders” and “see-through white clothes.” Rucks says she became aware of the policy only after the school cited Isabella for violating it when she wore a shirt that showed her shoulders.
Isabella’s protest, however, didn’t go as she and her mother had planned.
According to a police report obtained by the Lexington Herald-Leader, Isabella was “uncooperative and loud” with the school principal after being questioned about the shirt and pulled away several times when the school resource officer tried to arrest her. Later, when handcuffed, Isabella tried using her cellphone to call her mom. When the officer approached to take away the phone Isabella kicked her leg out, hitting the officer in the shin.
Isabella was taken before a judge on charges of disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and third-degree assault of a law enforcement officer. She was then transferred to McCracken Regional Juvenile Detention Center, where she was held for six days.
She shouldn’t have been in any kind of trouble. Now it turned out to be where she’s in McCracken because the assistant principal did not like what her shirt had read. I feel like the school has gone overboard. She’s such a good kid.
Isabella was released from the detention center last Tuesday but remains under house arrest. Her mother has since enrolled her in a different school but was told Isabella couldn’t be transferred outside of the Christian County Public School system until she goes before a judge again in late September.
In the meantime, Rucks is considering hiring a private attorney to sue the school.
After Isabella was released, Rucks shared photos she claims shows bruising from the arrest.
Responses to the story were split. Many were outraged and agreed that the school had overreacted.
While others sided with the school and their policy.
Dress code is clearly described in the student code of conduct. If you break said code for a second time & kick a police officer then maybe, just maybe you may get sent to juvenile detention.
— Chris Harris ? (@kentucky_nole) September 3, 2018
Uncooperative, loud, and kicked a police officer. Case closed. Carry on, mom.
— kfals (@kfalsTI) September 3, 2018
If u disagree with a policy take it up with the school board. No right to disrupt the school with protest,albiet only a t-shirt and def not ok to physically resist a lawful arrest. Bad choices lead to consequences.
— Dave Brede (@DaveBrede1) September 3, 2018
Though, for many, the only reaction was disbelief.
Wait… arrested… are you actually joking. Wtaf
— Hanna Choi ☁️ (@hanaorann) September 5, 2018
Arrested for wearing a T-shirt?
— Trevor Scott (@RedPillfortheW) September 5, 2018
Arrested is a little extreme? Wtf nothing of this shirt seems offensive.
— Manny (@BeastModeManny) September 5, 2018
If only there had been a reasonable way of dealing with the situation.
Seriously if you’re a school administrator and don’t know how to deal with this without the police you should just quit.
— Terry Kosdrosky (@TerryKoz) September 5, 2018