LOUISVILLE, KY — A Kentucky ninth grader has been expelled from her private school over a photo posted to her mother's Facebook caught the attention of administrators.
The school calls the colorful birthday cake and rainbow on her shirt a "lifestyle violation."
The teen’s mother, Kimberly Alford, says they are devastated.
She said it was a happy moment-- freshman Kayla Kenney celebrating her 15th birthday with family at a restaurant in late December.
"She was happy, she looked beautiful! You know of course as a mom, I took her picture of her blowing out her candles and I posted that on my Facebook page," Alford said .
But the post was shared with staff at Kayla’s school-- and apparently the last straw for Whitefield Academy.
A few days later Alford was contacted by head of school Dr. Bruce Jacobson.
"It was an email expelling Kayla from Whitefield immediately due to a post on social media. I feel judged, she feels judged, very just devastating for us," Alford said.
The private school claims the picture is the latest in two years' worth of "lifestyle violations."
In the email, Dr. Jacobson said the picture quote demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy's beliefs.
The code of conduct does address sexual orientation and says if a student's off campus behavior isn't in line with the school's beliefs they can be disciplined.
But Kimberly wants to know how the shirt brought them to that conclusion.
"She loves to laugh and dance and that's just her! There was nothing intended by that and even when I went back and got the receipt from the bakery, it didn't say anything about representation it just said assorted colors," Alford said.
Kimberly filed an appeal. She says the school refused to meet with her but they agreed to change the expulsion to a voluntary withdrawal so it's not on Kayla’s record anymore.
But Kimberly fears feeling this level of judgment could have a permanent impact on her child.
"You know we teach our kids what would Jesus do, what would he do here?" Alford said.
The Kentucky school is pushing back-- calling it "inaccurate" that the student was expelled solely for the social media post.
The school released a statement saying in part: "it is unfortunate that the parents chose to post internal family matters on social media, and we hope our former student is not adversely affected by what her parents chose to make public about her situation.”