Students at Connecticut’s Shelton High School say they are planning to circulate a petition to voice opposition to what, they say, are last-minute changes to their prom’s dress code.
The New York Times reports controversy over the dress code erupted Friday when the school’s headmaster, Beth A. Smith, made an announcement, reminding students that backless dresses, dresses with side cutouts, or dresses that exposed a student’s midriff would not be permitted.
“I encourage any student who may have any doubt that your dress is not appropriate to show a picture to one of the housemasters or me before next Friday,” Smith said in her announcement, according to ABC News. “Be proactive and allow yourself time to rectify any issues, prior to 6:00 next Saturday night. As with all of our dances and stated on your signed contract, ‘Students dressed inappropriately will not be allowed into the dance and there will be no refund.’”
Since the announcement, 19 dresses have been reviewed by school faculty and seven have been deemed inappropriate.
With the prom coming up Saturday, parents and students say they don’t have much time to find another dress.
“If she had a problem with this, she should have addressed it two or three months ago, not a week before,” said Leisha Verdi, a parent of a Shelton High School student, who spoke with WVIT News.
Adding to the frustration is the expense of prom dresses. For those whose dresses have been banned, they now face the prospect of having to purchase a second dress to wear to the dance. If they don’t they forfeit the cost of their $90 prom ticket.
Fran Reider, whose daughter Danielle Reider’s white strapless dress was deemed inappropriate, said purchasing the dress was a hardship on her.
Reider said she and her husband are divorcing and she and her daughter are living with Danielle’s grandmother. The dress and alterations cost her $400, she told The Times.
“I scrimped and saved to give my daughter this,” she said. “It’s beautiful on her. So I’m hoping they change their minds.”
At a Monday news conference, school Superintendent Freeman Burr gave no indication the school was planning to back down.
“Sometimes what we’re talking about here is good judgment,” he said. “Honestly, I believe this incident has been blown out of proportion.
“We want our young ladies to be dressed beautifully; we want them to be dressed with class and dignity,” he added. “But we are going to draw the line relative to attire that would be deemed overexposing oneself.”
Burr said the announcement was not anew policy, just simply a restatement of an existing policy that is spelled out in the student handbook.
But parent Tonny Montalvo, whose daughter’s dress was also deemed inappropriate, said the dress code was never clear to begin with, and certainly doesn’t mention prom dresses. Now families have little time to try and fix their daughters’ dresses or find a new one, she said.
“They say it’s in the student handbook,” Montalvo told The Times. “There’s no specifics anywhere.”
Photo Credit: Submitted photos via WVIT News