LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Parents of Eastern High School Students are expressing their outrage on social media saying many students were turned away from their homecoming dance for dress code issues.
According to a Facebook post from Lisa Adams, her daughter never made it into the dance because of the length of her dress. Adams believes the situation was a safety hazard for students who were turned away from the dance and had to wait for a ride home.
Parents Jill Robinson and Stacy Carnes said their daughters were denied entry into the dance Saturday night. The two said they witnessed school faculty using rulers to measure students’ dresses and turned them away if they were too short.
Students Savannah Foster and Kaya Coldiron said they were denied entry as seniors. Coldiron said she was turned away by school officials citing her chest.
"As soon as she looks at me she goes 'your boobs are too big, your chest is too big. You have too much cleavage, you have to go,'" Coldiron said.
Foster said she was turned away for a "slit" in her dress.
"I literally could not explain what I felt in that moment. I was just like 'okay I'm ready to go,'" Foster said.
"The whole thing was humiliating. Practically slut-shamed for what we're wearing and told in a way that it's disgusting. It was something we felt ashamed of," Coldiron said.
Eastern High School’s principal said the dress code was explained in a recent newsletter which was sent to families on September 20. It states:
"Dresses must be no more than 2 inches above the top of the kneecap (measurement will be taken at the end line of the main fabric of the dress, not at the end of any sheer material enhancing the dress). Slits must be no more than 2 inches above the top of the kneecap. Dresses must be complete with no cut outs or sheer material that expose the stomach or sides. Dresses must not have plunging necklines or backs that are cut out below the natural waist."
Many parents are calling the dress code rules unrealistic and outdated.
"We want the policy on the dress code to be lightened. You have kids on the football field on games on Friday night in the student section who don't have shirts on and girls in sports bras and nothing is ever said to them," Robinson said.
Both parents and students said school officials were also inconsistent in enforcing the dress code.
"It was just random. Girls being let in, girls being turned away," Carnes said.
"One girl wore the exact same dress last year as she wore this year. Last year she was admitted to the dance, this year she was not. So the inconsistencies on who they were letting into the dance was mind-blowing," Robinson said.
Parents were also concerned with school officials turning away kids at the door, without having a safe area set up for them to wait for a parent pick-up. As students were turned away at the doors, many did not have a ride secured.
"They were dropped off by parents. They thought they were going to be there all night. They had nowhere else to go," Robinson said.
"They weren't allowed to wait for a parent in the parking lot they were told to wait on the sidewalk and some of the kids had to cross Shelbyville Road in the dark," Carnes said.
Both the parents and students said they hope the school changes the dress code policy.
"It was uncalled for. It didn't have to happen. These kids are supposed to have these high school memories to last a lifetime and this was not the memory they asked for," Robinson said.
JCPS Board member James Craig, who represents Eastern High School, said parents reached out to him about the dress code policy.
District officials were also made aware of the events at the dance, according to JCPS spokeswoman Renee Murphy.
"School leaders at Eastern will be reviewing the dress code, the communication, and the processes for coming into dances. Student representatives and parent representatives will review the dress code as well, along with a teacher group, and administrators will work with their SBDM to consider suggestions for improvement," Murphy said.
Since our story aired on WHAS11, Eastern High Principal Lana Kaelin released a statement to parents:
Dear Eastern High School Families,
I wanted to take some time today to address what happened this weekend at our homecoming dance as well as our path moving forward. I understand your concerns and truly regret that some of our students were not able to enjoy their evening. Understandably, we had students and families who were upset or hurt by what took place, and for that I apologize.
The dress code for our formal dances will be reviewed by student, parent and teacher representatives so that we can gather valuable feedback and suggestions that will help ensure the dress code is fair and equitable for all students. Additionally, I want you to know that we will be reviewing how we communicate the dress code to all students and families as well as our processes for entering the dances to ensure that families feel both informed and welcomed to our events.
At the end of the day, we want to make certain that all students are able to come and enjoy the dances, and that parents also feel the events are safe and fun for their students. To that end, we will be working with our different stakeholders of our school community to ensure that happens. I also encourage you to please share suggestions with your SBDM or PTSA representatives or any of our administrative team.
Thank you for your patience as we have these discussions and plan for future events, and I look forward to working together so that we can positively impact future events for all of our students.