MICHIGAN (ABC NEWS)-A Michigan high school that caused a social media firestorm when it put a so-called “modesty poncho” on display has decided it won’t be handing out the cover-up to girls who don’t follow the school’s required dress code at the upcoming prom.
In a letter to parents from the principal of Divine Child High School given to “Good Morning America” by the Archdiocese of Detroit, the school stated there would be no ponchos handed out.
“Our intention with displaying the poncho was never to make students feel uncomfortable, but to remind all students and parents of our formal Prom dress policy, which has not changed for several years. To be clear: The poncho will not be passed out at Prom. It was on display to proactively remind students of our dress code policies and eliminate any confusion prior to this special event.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, the ponchos were put on display last week at the Catholic high school.
Divine Child alumna Laurie Pohutsky told GMA when she read about the ponchos she was “disappointed, but not surprised.” She recounted her experience when girls’ uniform skirts did not meet the required length.
“I saw, on multiple occasions, female students made to come in front of the class while a teacher measured the distance from their knees to the hem of their skirts. It was embarrassing and humiliating to watch and made a public spectacle out of a mundane uniform infraction.”
Another alumnus, a man who wished to remain anonymous, agreed.
“The dress code was very strict, but it was not always uniformly enforced. Boys had to wear specific brown khaki pants [from a specific brand with the brand’s logo]. Many boys did not wear these pants and nothing was ever said to them,” he said. “Girls had to wear knee-length skirts and that was always enforced no matter what. They would literally pull girls out of the hallway and give them detention.”
He also said that his senior prom his date, and many others, had “some form of fabric attached to their dress by a teacher because they felt it was inappropriate.”
Pohutsky said she understands that these are children and the issue is delicate.
“Although I am opposed to the policing of the female body and clothing, I do understand that we are talking about children at a school function,” she said. “The issue is the need to humiliate young women for failing to adhere to a dress code.”
While the ponchos won’t be handed out, the school is by no mean abandoning its dress code for the prom on May 12.
“We encourage our students to tailor their outfits or provide their own wraps or shawls that would meet our requirements,” the school’s letter read. “If necessary, we may also provide wraps and shawls, as we have done at school functions for many years.”