MARRERO, La. – Dozens of girls were turned away from a prom at Higgins High School because a teacher thought their dresses were too revealing.
Families of the girls said the teacher cited alleged violations of the Jefferson Parish schools dress code, most of them related to excessive display of cleavage.
"I was embarrassed," said Miranda Melerine, 17, a senior at the Marrero high school, who was among those barred by teacher Judy Gardner, an adviser to senior activities. "We can't go back to prom night. Prom's over. Our prom has been stolen from us."
Melerine said she is larger-busted than many of the girls who passed inspection at the door. She said it is harder for her to get the right fit in a prom dress and that Gardner gave her blessing to a picture of the dress long before the dance.
Earlis Fayette, 18, said his girlfriend also was sent away by Gardner at the door.
"I find it's wrong, because you can't help what the girl has. You're born with that," he said. "I think it was discrimination toward a woman who has features."
Gardner refused to talk with parents who rushed to the dance hall Friday night after frantic calls from daughters. She also declined comment Saturday to The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, saying she is not allowed to talk to the press. The Associated Press could not locate her Sunday.
But Jefferson Parish schools spokesman Jeff Nowakowski said Gardner did nothing wrong and that the ones in error were girls who showed up with dresses that didn't comply with a district code that says: "A student will not wear clothing that exposes the student's back, chest or midriff."
The policy, which also strictly restricts any use of fishnet or see-through clothing, has been in effect for years and is included in a handbook that parents sign, Nowakowski said.
He said that students who didn't gain admittance Friday night were given a chance to leave and alter their dresses to bring them into compliance, and that some did that.
Twenty to 25 girls "didn't meet the code and so they were turned away because they didn't want to fix the dress in order to come inside," Nowakowski said. "It should have covered the breast, and that's not what happened last night."