An Illinois high school is facing backlash after refusing to let a U.S. Marine walk at her graduation while wearing her dress blues.
Marine Corps Pvt. Megan Howerton technically graduated from McHenry West High School several months ago, finishing up early so she could attend bootcamp, but she attended Thursday's ceremony so she could walk with the rest of her class, a local ABC News affiliate reported.
When she arrived at her graduation in full uniform, officials determined she violated the dress code and wouldn't let her participate without wearing the traditional gown, the station reported.
The school posted a statement on its website Friday after people in the community expressed outrage on social media using the hashtag #letmeganwalk.
"The district and administration in no way looked to prevent the participation of this graduate or any graduate who has chosen to serve our nation," the school said in a statement. "Rather, the administration communicated in advance via letter, senior meeting, and practice, all the protocols expected of graduates, including attire. In some past cases, active-duty students elected to wear their gowns over top of their military uniforms, with their military hats, which was allowed.
"There was no communication to the administration that attire protocols would not be followed prior to the ceremony. The tradition of cap and gown regalia is aimed at the idea that our graduates are celebrated as a whole and in similar attire."
According to the U.S. Marine Corps Uniform Board, wearing a cap and gown over a uniform is not allowed as it is considered similar to outerwear, a local NBC News affiliate reported.
Pvt. Megan Howerton said she had been informed of the district's policy and does not want the attention or controversy that the incident has caused, the Northwest Herald reported.
"I do not want the controversy that is saturating social media, and I do not want to draw attention away from the class of 2016," she said. "That being said, it was my choice not to participate in the graduation."