The story began for Aberdeen Times reporters when irate parents began to call our office from the Prom location. These parents were understandably upset by their children not being allowed into the prom. We went to the Fair Barn in an attempt to see what was happening for ourselves firsthand. The following pictures are of just a few of the students that were not allowed into the prom for one dress code reason or another, This includes Nowell Wilkes in the red dress and Casste Bustillo pictured below along with Autumn Scales and her date Davonte Brown.
The large group of students and parents that met us in the parking lot was overwhelming and a little sad. School officials had given each person a reason why their outfit did not meet requirements: too much cleavage, too much back or side showing, knee high dresses that were determined to be too short and the list goes on.
Rather than responding to this growing crowd of parents and students in the parking lot in a positive way, the school's response was to have School Resource Officers come and tell all of those parents and students that they had to get into their vehicles and leave, even though they were on public property in a parking lot.
The editor of Aberdeen Times, Billy Marts, approached the front entrance of the prom and asked a group of people that were obviously part of the event who was in charge. Complete silence followed the question, so it was asked again with the same response. One of the people standing in that very group was Pinecrest Principlal Dr. Thomas Ferrell, however he did not make any effort to identify himself. Mr. Marts made it very clear that we have heard numerous complaints and would like to give the school the chance to explain their actions. The response was the same... there was not one.
After the non-response to our questions, minutes later this unknown man approached our two reporters with School Resource Officers and demand that we leave the property. He was asked who he was, and his response was for us to leave the property. Only after asking a third time did a School Resource Officer identify the man as Pinecrest Principal Ferrell. The only statement Mr Ferrell made was to tell us that we were also banned from the Pinecrest Campus, which we intend to take up with the School Administration in Carthage first thing Monday morning.
We never question authority while on a news scene, so we allowed the school resource officers to escort us from the property. A short time later we learned that the school did not have the authority to make us leave the property, so our reporters returned and continued talking to students and parents.
The most important thing we did is what we do at all news stories; we stopped and watched what was happening around us. Was everyone treated fairly? How did the staff act towards the students and parents?
We watched as one person would be turned away for violating one of the supposed dress codes, only to watch another person showing much more cleavage and back was allowed to cruise right into the dance. It seemed that the decisions were being made arbitrarily depending on which person was standing at the door at the time.
Everone understands the need for rules to help keep order. Those in charge have a mandate to treat each and every child fairly and equally. This did not happene here tonight as we stand witness to.
To the many students whose prom was ruined tonight, and for the parents who were run over by school administrators like you did not matter we apologize for the poor decisions of our local school officials. A prom comes along once or twice in a lifetime and is something people remember forever. Unfortunately there are too many students whose memories of the 2014 Prom will be filled with tears and disappointment.