COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (KTVB) -- The homecoming dance for Coeur d'Alene High School finished on Saturday night but many people were absent from the dance thanks to the dress code.

Parents said many students skipped the dance because they got a notice from Coeur d'Alene school district that bare shoulders and spaghetti straps were not allowed.

"I don't want to miss out completely, but I'll probably only be there for like 20 minutes because I don't think it's right," CDA high school student Kara Pattee said.

Her mom received a message from school administrators on Thursday about the dress code, just two days before the dance when most students had purchased their outfits already. Some parents paid at least $100 for dresses that were outlawed and non-refundable.

"What are we going to do now? Pay day is next week," Kara's mother Susan Pattee said. "I'm not the only one-- that's money a lot of parents don't have."

The district said the dress code has been in place since 2011. Last year, parents complained that the enforcement wasn't strict enough so they implemented the dress code with students last spring. The update on Thursday was a reminder. Many parents said they are still finding out.

Pattee said finding a formal dress that's not strapless or doesn't show the shoulders is a difficult task.

"I think she tried on *one dress in Spokane that qualified for dress code," Susan Pattee said. "So if every girl wanted to wear identical dresses, it'd be great."

The district said they were just trying to maintain a safe and fun environment.