A dance mom has found herself in a legal spotlight over an angry Facebook post she published after she was told her tiny hip-hop dancer could not keep up with others and should be moved to another class.
Farrah Joy Ferris of Turnersville, the 6-year-old dancer's mother, is named in a civil lawsuit filed by Dance by Debra DiNote late last month, alleging Ferris went too far when she blasted the studio on Facebook and encouraged others to share the post.
On Wednesday, Littleton said that before the suit was filed, she and DiNote twice asked Ferris to remove the post and offered to meet with her.
"In 46 years, there's never been anything like this," Littleton said. Students are placed in the best class for their skill level, she said.
In October, Ferris moved her daughter from a Tuesday hip-hop class for children 6 to 8 years old to a Wednesday class for the same age group.
Ferris, a server at a local restaurant, said she received a call from an office manager who told her that Lily was not keeping up with the class, and that she should return to her original class or take a class for children 4 to 6.
"It was hurtful," Ferris said Wednesday.
Her daughter, she said, was there for fun. The call took her by surprise, she added. She had seen her daughter dance, she said, and she looked fine.
"They all are adorable at 6. They all look so cute," Ferris said.
Ferris eventually pulled her daughter from the school and her tuition was refunded, according to both sides. Ferris also stopped attending Mommy and Me classes at the school with her younger daughter.
DiNote said she told Ferris that if she should change her mind, the school would be happy to have the family return.
Instead, on Nov. 29 Ferris published a lengthy post on Facebook she said was intended to warn other parents that their children could be "kicked out" of dance class if they were not good enough.
"Try Having To explain this to your 6 yr old daughter. Last night we told Lily the dance school ran out of $ went bankrupt and closed their doors 😞 Please SHARE!" the post concluded, with #donotsendyourchildtodebradenote.
DiNote called Ferris after seeing the post.
Ferris said she was told, "We demand you take this post down," and she responded, "Absolutely not."
Littleton said Ferris told them she would only take down her post if the dance studio clearly stated online that it was a competitive dance school. The school, with 350 students, has a dance team, but the majority of the students dance for recreation, Littleton said.
The post was shared 245 times with Facebook users weighing in: Some expressed compassion for Ferris, others said they loved the studio.
DiNote filed the defamation lawsuit Dec. 28 in Superior Court in Woodbury, alleging she has been exposed to public hatred, contempt threats, and ridicule. She is seeking general and punitive damages, and legal costs.
Ferris had Center City attorney Jeffrey Ogren call DiNote's attorney to resolve the matter, offering to take down the post if DiNote dropped the suit. Ogren said DiNote agreed to drop the suit only if Ferris was willing to pay $2,500 in legal fees.