Huh? Alabama students must choose between being PADDLED or suspended for violating prom dress code

Erica DeRamus in her prom dress. CNNErica DeRamus in her prom dress. CNNLast week, Erica DeRamus, a senior at Oxford High School in Alabama, was suspended for wearing a dress to her prom that was deemed inappropriate and denied access to her senior dance. The school's dress code, which was presented to both parents and students on three occasions, stated that dresses could not have cleavage that fell below the breast bone, or rose six inches above the knee. When DeRamus showed up to the prom this past weekend, she was told she had violated both rules.

"What cleavage, that's exactly what I said," DeRamus told CNN. "I wasn't trying to be rude or anything, but that's the way I feel." Her mother stood by the mint-green confection, claiming she saw nothing wrong with it. "
If I felt like it was too much cleavage in this dress, I wouldn't have purchased the dress," said Darrie DeRamus. "It would have stayed in that store, and I wouldn't have even got it off the internet and paid for it."

Of the 352 students who attended the prom at Oxford, 18 violated the imposed dress code. The students were offered two punishment options-17 chose to be paddled, while DeRamus opted for a three-day suspension. "We are too old to be paddled," said DeRamus. "This is high school. We are seniors. If you go and act up, give us another option besides being paddled, because this is not the 1940s. We don't take corporal punishment now."

Oxford principal Trey Holloday said the dress code set fourth by the community is there "for the protection of kids, and not for management of kids." He said there is also a difference between patience and tolerance. "They're young, and sometimes they make young peoples' mistakes, and we're very patient when those things are made, including this. But we're not tolerant of bad behavior or defiance."

We understand that schools have the right to choose their own dress codes and set standards for acceptable prom attire, but we can't believe that 17- and 18-year-old students are actually being paddled for wearing dresses that are too revealing. With "slutty chic" prom dresses gaining popularity, more and more young women will probably run into dress code issues this year.

Do you think schools should enforce a prom dress code? And if so, what would you consider an adequate punishment for those who do not adhere to the rules?