The parents of some high school students with special needs are demanding answers after the teenagers were forced to leave their prom well before the kids who don’t have special needs, Yahoo Lifestyle reports.
Nine kids with various special needs attended New Jersey’s Hillsborough High School’s senior prom back on May 17. Their parents and friends without special needs did everything possible to make sure they would have the same prom experience that all teens have — the girls got their hair and makeup done, while the boys rented tuxes. There was a pre-prom party for photos. Their families even rented limousines for them.
However, the special-needs kids didn’t get to experience the full prom, say their parents. Prom was scheduled to end at 11:30, and in a letter sent to all parents of high school students in the district, prom attendees wouldn’t be allowed to leave until 11:15, 15 minutes before prom was to end. For reasons that remain in dispute, though, the special-needs kids were rounded up at 10:40 and escorted out of the prom, despite the complaints of at least some of them.
The kids missed out on what may very well have been the highlights of the evening, including the crowning of Prom King and Prom Queen and the event’s final dance.
According to Trenton radio station WKXW, one or more of the aides made the decision to leave early and called the limo driver, despite how limo drivers having been expressly forbidden from picking up anybody before 11:15. One of the boys objected and attempted to call the limo driver himself. Parents say that the principal then demanded his phone, and when the boy refused to hand it over, he was escorted out by security personnel.
At a school board meeting following the incident, parents demanded “immediate and severe” action.
Parent Deborah Myers-Eisenberger said that the kids were “herded out like sheep,” and that they came home feeling “humiliated” and “disheartened.”
Another parent, Katherine Trusky, said her daughter Lisa, who has Down Syndrome, was “traumatized” by the experience.
“These students were embarrassed and humiliated and led out of their senior prom in a way that was not befitting an animal,” Trusky said.
Jorden Schiff, superintendent of Hillsborough Township Public Schools, said in a statement that district policy dictates that all special-needs students in the district are entitled to the same rights and privileges as students without special needs and that the matter will be investigated. However, he also stated that this is a personnel matter, which means that the district will likely not be able to comment on the results of the investigation.