SCS to re-evaluate prom dress code after student denied entrance

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Mid-South teen says her dream night at prom turned into a nightmare over confusion concerning the dress code.

The teen says she was held at the door for more than hour as her family scrambled to make alterations to her attire.

"A pantsuit, I had a blouse on under it," said Kanecia Hunter. "I was really happy to wear it."

A senior at Central High School, Hunter decided against wearing a dress to her prom Saturday at the Esplanade in Cordova.

"It was different and I knew that no one else was going to have something like that and I figure like prom was my time to step out and that's what I decided to do," Hunter said.

But that decision to be different is why she says she was stopped at the door when trying to enter her prom.

"They told me that I needed to follow the guidelines according to the contract that I signed and it was either follow the girls dress code or follow the male dress code," Hunter said.

Central's prom guidelines include a detailed policy about lady's and gentlemen's attire.

It does not specify that girls must wear a dress, but it does state that boys must wear a coat and tie.

"I was in between and I didn't know there was a such category for being in between," Hunter said.

In order to enter prom, Hunter said she was forced to make a choice.

"Ended up having to go to Walmart down the street and buying a tie and it was just for me to loosely put it over my neck for me to get in my own prom," Hunter said.

In a statement from Shelby County Schools, the district said "staff did not object when they were informed of this student's choice of dress prior to the prom. However, there was some confusion about certain requirements not being met when the student arrived, which unfortunately caused a delay in allowing the student to enter prom."

Hunter says she believes what happened to her was unfair.

"I was uncomfortable," Hunter said. "I didn't want to be wearing a dress and dancing, that's just my perspective and I shouldn't have to dress as a male in order to get into my prom when I don't associate myself as a male."

Shelby County Schools says the situation has prompted school leaders to reevaluate dress code requirements for special events to avoid this type of misunderstanding in the future.

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