National News

High School Senior's Prom Date Denied Access to Dance Due to Guest Policy

Posted May 9, 2018 12:04 p.m. EDT

— A mother in Carbon County is venting her frustration about her son's prom.

Eva Zakzewski says her son, who has developmental disabilities, is not being allowed to bring his date because she is still in middle school.

Speaking to Newswatch 16 at her home near Lehighton, Zakzewski says she's heartbroken for her son.

In his senior year at Marian Catholic High School, 17-year-old Tyler and his 14-year-old date planned for months to attend his first prom.

"Pre-plan for prom way in advance, she bought a dress. We have a tuxedo. Tickets were paid for. Everything was arranged," said Eva.

But then, Eva says, on April 27, two weeks before the May 11 prom night, students were told about age requirements for those bringing outside guests. It's a policy Tyler and his mom didn't know about.

The problem is Tyler's guest is a childhood friend from New Jersey who would not be allowed to go.

"She is in middle school. She's 14 years old," said Eva. "And he was told he could not bring her two weeks ago because she's not in high school, though there are 14 year olds in high school."

Still, Eva asked the school to make an exception due to the late notice of that policy.

"I was still hopeful, definitely. If anything could change, it would make my day, but the more and more it got farther," said Tyler.

Marian Catholic posted a response to the situation on its Facebook page:

Good Afternoon,

Regarding the Marian Catholic prom posts and inquiries, all senior students have been invited to attend their senior prom, and administration and staff sincerely hopes that they take advantage of attending this memorable event.

Students are permitted to invite guests; however, our policy is that guests must be at least in high school, and no more than 20 years of age. Every student received this information in April. All six Allentown Diocesan high schools (grades 9-12) adhere to the same policy for guests.

A recent request for a seventh grade student to accompany a senior to Marian's prom has been denied, due to the fact that the guest does not meet the minimum grade requirement. While the seventh grade guest was denied, the senior has always been and is still invited to participate in his senior prom. Marian Catholic continues to develop high school students spiritually, morally, academically, and socially. Thank you for understanding our decision.

Tyler's mom says she contacted the Diocese of Allentown, which said it was standing by this policy.

However, since the notice of guest restrictions was sent out so close to the date of the prom, it would allow the principal to have the final say on the issue.

"[The principal] called my husband at 4 o'clock yesterday and said no, that she would not allow my son to take an age-appropriate date to the prom," said Eva.

Tyler says his friend was the only person he wanted to take to prom. He has developmental disabilities and feels comfortable with the girl he's known all his life.

"As everyone else probably had a date at the time or anything, she was probably one of the closest friends that I knew. She was there all the time. I knew her personally. Her family was great to me," said Tyler.

Eva says the school offered refunds, but she hasn't accepted in hopes the principal will reconsider.