BOUNTIFUL -- The parents of a Bountiful Junior High School girl, whose nose piercing breached school dress code, are saying it was not a parental choice to take Suzannah Pabla from the school as the Davis School District is claiming.
Davis School District spokesman Chris Williams refutes that the 12-year-old was expelled or suspended from Bountiful Junior High for breaching the dress code.
"Baloney," said Shirley Pabla. "Expelled, suspended, what's the difference. They wouldn't let her back in class. In the beginning it was for an indefinite period, but it lasted only a week."
Williams stated in an e-mail that it was the parents' choice to take Savannah Pabla out of school.
"Bountiful Junior High School principal Brent Stephens said the student was kept home from school because of a parent's choice to do so," Williams stated. "The student could have returned to school at any time, as long as she was willing to adhere to the school's dress code."
Suzannah Pabla's mother, Shirley Pabla, said on the day the controversy began, Suzannah was immediately placed in In-School Suspension, where she stayed the remainder of the day, after a reading teacher reported the nose piercing.
The girl had her nose pierced and a small stud installed earlier in the month to honor her father's Indian culture.
Suzannah said she was initially directed by school officials to remove the nose piercing, but she was not able to when she tried to pull the stud out.
"The stud was stuck," Suzannah said. "They said I could not come back to school until I proved that I could have it in."
Her mother said the two-week-old piercing was too fresh to remove and was still in the healing process.
"We were told not to remove it for at least three months," Shirley Pabla said.
Shirley Pabla said when the religious and cultural issue was raised, the school principal told her the girl could not return to school until the piercing was removed.
"We were given an indefinite time period then," she said, noting she began negotiating with the district through Michelle Beus, who oversees legal issues for the school district, to try to get her daughter back into school under a dress code exception.
"We asked if she could get homework from the school while she was suspended," Shirley Pabla said, "and they said 'yes,' and let her get her homework."
Suzannah returned to school a week later after the district allowed her to replace the jeweled stud with a clear one.
According to the e-mail from Williams, an expulsion is a disciplinary action lasting more than 10 days while a suspension is temporary, lasting 10 days or less.