SHELTON - Just days before Shelton High School's prom, the school headmaster is threatening to send students away at the door if their dresses are deemed inappropriate.
Students say the news came as a complete surprise to them one week and one day before the event, but the school administration says the dress code guidelines are clear from the start of the school year.
Shelton's prom is Saturday, May 16. Many students have had their dresses for months, can't return them, and say they don't have time to find another one in just eight days. Yet, they don't want to be turned away from an event they've been looking forward to all year.
Junior Danielle Rieder purchased her dream dress earlier this year, never expecting she wouldn't be allowed to wear it. However on Friday, the school headmaster suggested anyone with a questionable prom dress have it reviewed.
"I went and I asked her. She looks at it and she says 'no,'" said Rieder. "My dress is like my favorite thing ever, so I was so upset. I started crying."
The back of Rieder's dress has cut outs. She was told to find a new dress or not attend.
Over at Atiana's Boutique in Milford, they got a call from another Shelton High School student. Her dress had an open back and was also deemed inappropriate. Owner Sumit Tandon had to tell her the dress can't be returned. It had already been altered and the store has a "no refunds, no exchange" policy on its formal wear.
"That's the kind of thing they'd want to find out the minute the prom date is announced, not a week before prom, " said Tandon.
Shelton Public Schools Superintendent Freeman Burr sent the following statement to Fox CT regarding prom attire:
Those attending next weekends junior/senior prom have been made aware of what has been deemed "appropriate" dress, which is included in the student handbook that is provided at the beginning of each school year.
Recently, some students began sharing photos of their prom dresses to administrators and staff, in which a handful were considered, inappropriate, too revealing and overexposed. That is when the decision was made by the Headmaster to re-interate, once again, the appropriate prom dress guidelines.
At this point, we are aware of six or seven dresses that have been deemed, inappropriate. However, there will still be an opportunity for those students to have that decision to reviewed further, as soon as Monday.
We made sure that guidelines were set well in advance of this event, so that both students and their parents were aware of our expectations, due to the fact that in years past, some very questionable dresses were worn by a few to prom. We don't want to be in a position to turn anyone away at the door. We want this to be a safe and memorable evening for everyone."
The school district also sent us a copy of the expectations students were reminded of this week. It includes this information about prom.
The administration has received numerous inquiries regarding prom dresses. Two piece outfits, in which the midriff is exposed, are not appropriate. One piece dresses, in which there is no back or with side cuts-outs are not appropriate. 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. 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."
Students acknowledge the student handbook does address "inappropriate attire," but they say that can be subjective. They say these rules about specific style choices are new, and in past years have been allowed.
Rieder said, "I'm sure if we had a choice to switch dresses we would but we don't there's only eight days."
Many students say they plan to wear the dresses they've already purchased, and hope they are allowed in.
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