A principals' group defines what is and what isn't appropriate prom attire and behavior.
Given today's fashion trends that encourage students to bare more than before and dance styles that are becoming increasingly risque, what role should school leaders take in defining acceptable standards of dress and behavior for school dances? In fall 2000, a principals' group from several districts in the north central region of Ohio that meets monthly to discuss education topics - such as curriculum, instruction, high-stakes testing, leadership programs, and relations with the juvenile court system - decided to tackle the prom issue. The group of principals shared what they considered acceptable dress and discussed their difficulty in dealing with prom attire because formal apparel is not addressed in student dress codes - to use the traditional board of education-approved dress code as a guide would render almost all prom dresses as unacceptable.
Additional discussion took place regarding what music lyrics were considered inappropriate for school dances and what should and should not be considered acceptable student behavior at any school function. Music lyrics involve more profanity and a higher level of promiscuity than ever before and, in some cases, promote violence and vandalism. Music seems to encourage behavior that appears risque or even obscene. Principals reviewed behavior with respect to safety and acceptable actions for high school age students.
Out of the discussion came one certainty - guidelines would need to be established. A consensus among administrators and uniform support would be beneficial to each area district. High school students attend one of two career center or vocational training schools, and many students date students in other schools throughout the county. If all schools followed the same expectations, the guidelines would be easier to endorse and support. It was also important to draw support from local superintendents and to post the information earlier in the semester because students begin plans for proms after the first of the year.