Amari Williams was all done up in her custom-made prom dress, ready to experience the high-school milestone in style. But by the time she got to school, she was turned away at the door because the principal said her outfit went against the prom dress code.
Williams’s mother, Troynetta Williams, told Yahoo Style that her daughter had skipped junior prom last year in order to make her senior prom extra special. Amari, she said, goes part-time to Carencro High School in Lafayette, La., and used the money she saved working to get herself a custom-made dress for the occasion. She also says that her daughter, along with a friend, went to the principal before the dress was made to get school approval.
On prom night, Amari was all ready to dance the evening away with her buddies in the bespoke threads that took about three weeks to make. But school principal Mary Qualey had other plans, keeping Amari from entering the prom, claiming her dress broke the formal dress code by not touching the floor.
As Lafayette Parish School System chief administrative officer Joe Craig told KLFY 11, “The length [of the dress] has to be all the way to the ground, all the way around; kind of easy to remember. In this case, the dress was not all the way to the ground and on that basis, it wasn’t considered a formal dress.” There was also reportedly a letter sent to parents in January about the prom dress code.
Still, Amari and Troynetta maintain that principal Qualey had given Amari the green light to wear the look to the prom. Troynetta said that 10 minutes after her daughter showed up, she got a phone call and rushed to the school armed with scissors and pins to make any last-minute modifications so that her daughter may be able to enjoy her night. “I asked [principal Qualey] what was going on, [the dress] was approved months ago and she OK’d it. She told me, ‘I’ve seen a lot of pictures.’ We just kind of stood around, and my daughter was in tears,” Williams said.
Williams told us her daughter being barred from the prom was even more confusing, as she noticed other kids in outfits that didn’t quite follow the dress code.
“The dress code, when I looked over it, it did mention that the dress had to be floor length, and they considered it not formal since it wasn’t the same length all the way around,” Williams told us. “But then I brought it to her attention that some of the rules in the dress-code policy also state that midriffs, high splits, or low back dresses aren’t allowed. As I’d been standing there, I saw she’d been allowing all those types of dresses into prom, but here she denies my daughter, and she’s dressed appropriately, not showing any skin or anything inappropriate at all. Her response to me was she used her own judgement.”
Williams still doesn’t quite understand why her daughter was not allowed to attend her prom. “I don’t know if it was because of the type of dress that it was. She was the only one that had an African-style dress,” she said.
Williams also mentioned that it seemed as if Principal Qualey was a bit conflicted about barring her daughter. “She actually seemed like she wanted to be a little bit lenient about it, but she asked her assistant and the assistant said, ‘That’s not formal.’ I was just appalled. I was like, ‘What is your version of formal? Is it not flared enough, not poufy enough, are there not enough sequins? Does she not have enough skin showing?‘’
We reached out to Principal Qualey for comment, and will update when we hear back.
In the meantime, Amari is working on getting past her prom night, now ruined. “She’s been getting a lot of support from friends. Some teachers have reached out to her apologizing, as they found out about it later on,” Amari’s mother says. “But it’s not something she can get back. She can’t go back to her senior prom, something that she’s waited for all her life. So it really hit hard.”
Williams thinks that the situation could have been handled better by the school. “The fact that she was pushed to the side and others were allowed in, that wasn’t properly addressed.”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty:
- High School Senior Wants to Bring Grandma to Prom. School Says No.
- This High School Student Asked Herself To Prom With A Memes Poster
- High School Patronizes Students With ‘Good Girl’ Sign on How to Dress for Prom