High school principal demands photos, final approval of prom dresses

Louisiana

UPDATE: Caddo Parish Public Schools confirmed on Friday, March 6 that female students going to the Southwood HS prom no longer have to submit photos of themselves in their dresses to the principal for preapproval. See the full updated story here.

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A text sent to students by a Shreveport high school principal is taking enforcement of the school’s dress code for prom one step further, and it’s not sitting well with everyone.

The text sent recently by Southwood High School Principal Dr. Kim Pendleton was primarily directed at the female students, requiring them to submit a photo of their selected prom attire for approval.

This message is for any female attending Southwood’s prom. Boys, this also applies to your off-campus dates. As you begin shopping for your attire, please make sure you do not purchase any clothes that are sheer or revealing in any manner. Also, make sure we not see excess cleavage or skin. Prior to purchasing an outfit, I will need you to send me a picture of you in the outfit with your name and grade. Once I approve the outfit, you may purchase it. The approved outfit is the only one you will be allowed to wear to prom.

Text sent by Southwood HS Principal Dr. Kim Pendleton

The text prompted a lot of talk on social media in recent days, with some questioning the need for what they call an excessively invasive policy. Others took issue with the principal having the final say in what can be an expensive purchase, months in advance, and tends to be a very personal form of expression.

While the school’s dress policy does not appear to have changed, at least one parent told KTAL/KMSS they believe the mass-text was an attempt at eliminating any gray area in order to avoid having to turn students away on prom night.

“As a grandparent, I’m kind of from the old school, back in the day,” said Albert Bryant, whose granddaughter goes to Southwood. “I can understand because there are some young ladies that are raising themselves more or less and they can get a little bit provocative.”

Jakarius Simpson’s sister is a junior at Southwood. He was with their mother waiting to pick her up Tuesday afternoon when he shared why they do not like the new policy.

“It should be the parents say-so of the kid’s approval instead of the principal, so I think that’s just totally wrong.”

Students will have an opportunity to express their concerns about the principal’s requirement for prom attire pre-approval at an upcoming assembly, according to a statement released Tuesday by Caddo Parish Public Schools in response to a request for comment.

In April, Southwood will host their annual prom and school administration has taken a proactive approach of asking parents for photos ahead of their upcoming event. It is a school-level decision for all formal dress to be approved prior to the event. Southwood will host an assembly for students only to address dress code guidelines and give an opportunity to raise questions and concerns.

Statement from Caddo Parish Public Schools

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