- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

WOODSTOCK, Vt. (AP) - School administrators in Vermont have apologized for holding a girls-only assembly in which female teachers addressed dress code violations.

One educator told girls at the April 22 assembly that code violations can distract boys. Students said they were made to feel responsible for boys’ behavior.

Woodstock Union Middle School Principal Dana Peterson apologized at a public forum on Wednesday, saying he “misstepped” by singling out girls. Boys didn’t have a similar assembly.

“Separating out the female population was a huge mistake,” Peterson said. That was mine, and mine alone.”

Peg DiBella, an administrator, said educators thought the private session would be less embarrassing. She said that clothing has changed with warmer weather.

“There was no intent for harm, no intent for sexism,” DiBella said. “It was a way of talking to them simply to inform them of things that they might need to be careful with.”

The dress code requirements include a ban on shorts with a less than 7-inch inseam and on sleeveless shirts with straps less than 3 inches wide. Girls said the requirements aren’t practical and that the way the rules are enforced humiliates them.

“I was called on Friday for straps that were 2 inches and 3/8ths because my straps weren’t 3 inches,” Eighth-grader Haley Symonds said.

Superintendent Alice Worth said administrators will use the feedback to a draft a new dress code.

“We are absolutely looking forward to moving forward in a proactive and constructive way to make the necessary changes,” she said.

___

This story has been corrected to show that Dana Peterson is a man, not a woman.

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