Did This Middle School Principal Go Too Far When She Banned Strapless Dresses From A School Dance?
In theory, Readington Middle School (N.J.) principal Sharon Moffat probably thought she was doing a good thing recently when she decided to ban teenage girls from wearing strapless dresses to a dinner dance. After announcing her decision, she told many Readington parents that she was banning the dresses because she felt as though they would “distract” the eighth-grade boys who would be attending the dance. Although strapless dresses aren’t any more or less “distracting” than, say, dresses with spaghetti straps on them, she placed her ban on strapless dresses and then stood pat, even as dozens of parents and students complained about the ban. And it turned a questionable decision on her part into a very, very bad decision.
Late last week, the Readington Middle School announced that they would be canceling the eight-grade dance after Principal Moffat received a threatening email. There’s been no word as to what was mentioned in the email. But it was apparently pretty bad, because it forced the Readington Police Department to send an armed officer to the school to stand guard. The school district also said that it was clear that the strapless dress ban had turned the dance into a media circus. So they decided to do away with it altogether in order to stop the dance from becoming an even larger distraction that it has already become.
And, you know what? That’s a real shame. Although we don’t doubt that Principal Moffat had the best intentions in mind when she issued her decree against strapless dresses, she had to know that there would be people out there who would be opposed to it. She waited so long to hand down her ruling that many parents had already spent money on strapless dresses—strapless dresses that their kids would no longer be allowed at the dance. And, in doing so, she ruined a special night in the lives of a bunch of teenagers by essentially forcing her school district to cancel the dance. While an eighth-grade dance isn’t quite as important as a high school prom, it is a special night for those kids who were getting ready for it. Now, they won’t have that special night because of their principal.
We hope Principal Moffat is planning on making this up to her eighth-grade students. We agree that the news surrounding the dance had gotten way out of control. But we think that Principal Moffat owes the eighth-graders at her school a dance of some kind to help them celebrate their final days at Readington Middle School. And we also think that this incident should serve as a reminder to all of the teachers and principals out there. Think before you make a decision like this one. Because, while you might be trying to do some good by making your decision, it very well could spiral out of control and change your life—and the lives of your students—forever.