Parents said during the Decatur Classical School's end-of-year awards ceremony, Principal Susan Kukielka singled out seven girls as not receiving the school's award of distinction "because their shorts are too short," the Chicago Sun-Tribune reported Monday.
The school's student population is kindergarten through sixth grade.
Arren Greven, whose 10-year-old daughter was among those singled out, said Kukielka "asked all the girls to stand up and said, 'We have one final award, it's an award of distinction, and she walked around the room and pointed out seven girls and told all the other girls to sit down. And then she said, 'These are not girls of distinction because their shorts are too short.'"
"My daughter tried her best not to cry," Greven said after Monday's Local School Council meeting. "She cried later as she told her mother what happened. ... She was wearing sports shorts that day. It's ridiculous."
Members of the school's Local School Council said the elementary school has no dress code, but public announcements said shorts shouldn't be higher than the fingertips when arms are hanging straight alongside the body.
Jill Martensen, a council member, said the school opened an investigation into the matter, the Sun-Times reported.
Kukielka, who sent letters of apology, told parents she cares about all students.
"I have listened, I have heard, I have read your concerns," she said. "I have taken responsibility. As principal, I love Decatur. I work hard and try to do my best every day."