Ariana Iacono, 14, and her mother, Nikki, 32, say they are members of the small but active Pennsylvania-based Church of Body Modification and claim her tiny nose stud is an expression of faith, the AP reports.
Facial piercings are forbidden at Clayton High School in Johnston County, where Iacono attends class, but the school system allows exceptions to its strict dress code on religious grounds.
Iacono, however, was suspended on multiple occasions this fall for attending class with her nose stud in place, according to a lawsuit filed Oct. 6 by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The girl's family and her minister, Richard Ivey, claim they were not able to persuade school officials that her religious beliefs were legitimate and she was suspended for 19 of the first 28 days of school.
The student won the right to return to the Raleigh, N.C., school Oct. 8 when U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard ruled in a preliminary hearing that her claims were likely to prevail in court.
"We are thrilled that Ariana can return to her studies," her mother said in a statement released by the ACLU. "Ariana was an honor student in middle school and she is eager to get back to classes and return to her education as soon as possible."
Iacono's back-to-school status is temporary, however. A full hearing on the matter is scheduled for Nov. 3.
According to its official website, Church of Body Modification members engage in "ancient and modern body modification practices" and believe that "body manipulation rituals strengthen the bond between mind, body, and soul."
The AP reports that the small, two-year-old sect has about 3,500 members in the United States.
So, um, do, Lisa Rinna, Kelly Osbourne, and Heidi Montag attend services?
Speaking of frowned-upon body modifications, read what happened to this pierced and tattooed British woman when she went job hunting.