NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – Female students at Newton Falls High School received apologies on Friday after WKBN started investigating complaints over the prom dress code.
Some students and parents are upset about an administrator saying “top-heavy students” couldn’t wear strapless dresses to prom.
Students and parents from Newton Falls High School that WKBN spoke with said they feel this comment was a form of body shaming, and it was embarrassing.
Earlier in the week, a student asked an administrator at Newton Falls High School for specifics on the prom dress code.
Shelby Gossack, a junior, said the conversation with that administrator was repeated throughout the school.
“She said if you had to keep pulling up your dress — if a girl was top-heavy — then she couldn’t wear a strapless dress,” Gossack said.
Katarra Waldron graduated from Newton Falls High School last year.
She posted criticism on her Facebook page after hearing about the school official’s comments. Her post went viral.
“I’m angry about it. As a woman who I feel they could classify as ‘top heavy,’ I’m angry,” she said.
Friday, WKBN spoke by phone with the superintendent of Newton Falls Schools, Paul Woodard.
Woodard refused to address questions by phone or in person, but he responded to a list of emailed questions.
He confirmed that a school administrator made the “top heavy” comment.
Tabitha Russo has two kids in the high school. She says that a comment like this — especially from a school administrator — can hurt, and it’s unacceptable.
“They are not comfortable with their bodies, and to body-shame these girls for being blessed with curves is just outrageous,” Russo said.
In his email, Woodard said school leaders handed out dress code information to the girls and apologized for the confusion.
Gossack said she’s not buying it, however.
“Covering up something that definitely caused a really big mess,” she said.
Woodard did not answer whether he would investigate the situation or the number of students – of each gender – that have been sent home for dress code violations in the past year. He did write that the comments made this week, and the 7-year-old policy on school dance attire – aren’t intended to target any body type.
Some parents said they plan to address the issue at the next school board meeting.
Woodard did provide a copy of the memo sent to high school students about “formal dance attire guidelines.” That memo is below: