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John McCartney and Herald staff |
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012, 4:55 p.m.

Girls barred from Utah dance for short dresses

TOOELE, Utah -- A Utah public high school principal has apologized to dozens of teens who were turned away from their homecoming dance because their dresses were deemed too short, in what parents and students called a "homecoming spirit massacre."

Stansbury High Principal Kendall Topham held four assemblies Monday, telling students the school's dress code policy was too vague to be properly enforced and vowing to hold a free dance to make up for Saturday's dress debacle.

As many as half of those who arrived at the dance ended up not going in after their dates and friends were barred from entering. Among those turned away: Homecoming Queen Erica Alvey.

The school's handbook states that dress for formal events should be "at or near knee length," leaving room for interpretation.

"They told me that it was showing my knees so it was too short, and in order to get into the dance I had to put on leggings," Alvey told the Deseret News. "So I did, and I got back in the dance, but that was before I realized that this thing was going to turn into such a big issue."

Students and parents took to Facebook after the dance to protest, posting examples of sparkly dresses an inch or two above the knee that school officials said broke the rules.

Some parents, including Michael Johnson, went to the school Saturday night after their children called to say they couldn't attend. Johnson told The Salt Lake Tribune he doesn't have a problem with the school imposing a dress policy, but he said it was too vague.

His daughter wore a black dress with ruffles ending about an inch above her knee. The family had paid to get the dress lengthened before the dance to make sure it would meet the school's requirements.

Several students wore their homecoming dresses to class Monday in protest of the dress code. They also signed a petition to have the dress code changed to be more specific with input from the student body.

Meanwhile, Topham apologized to students Monday.

"As much as we want to have a certain level of appropriateness and reasonableness, there was never any intention for people to leave heartbroken and disgruntled and confused and frustrated," he said. "So that apology needed to happen and it did happen."

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