Prom in Racine generates excitement, anger

Posted at 10:14 PM, May 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 00:03:16-04

RACINE- Prom is a night high school seniors dream of. Prom in Racine is such a big deal, a documentary  was made about it.

"It's your last hoorah. It's your last hoorah with your friends of your senior class," said Madison McDowell, a Racine Horlick High School Senior.

Out of the 400 seniors at Horlick High School, as of right now about 100 are ineligible to attend prom.

"Prom is considered a privilege ... there are some criteria to be able to attend prom at the end of the year," explained Stacy Tapp, Racine Unified Schools Communications Director.

Seniors on track to graduate say too many absences might keep them home prom night.

"Some things that counted against me were I had a death of a friend this year during my school time. Also, I had college visits that counted against me. Some specific times I was with teachers counted against me when I wasn't in a specific class and they had excuses me," said McDowell.

The district's code of conduct says funerals are considered an excused absence, so is personal illness.

"I'm actually having surgery next week and I was told that it will also count against me even though I have doctors notes," said Carolynn Heimann, a Horlick High School Senior.

The school sent home a letter explaining prom eligibility, including the absence policy and unexcused truancies.

"School attendance is extremely important of course, but by the state statute says more than 10 absences in a school year is considered truancy and so that's what we've incorporated into our prom policy," explained Tapp.

Prom criteria is set district wide. Students at Horlick High School say their principal didn't address the policy directly.

"If they can't go, it's like they're missing out on everything we worked so hard for," said Courtney Serpe, a Horlick High School Senior.

Students who aren't eligible to attend prom have until May 20 to take care of unserved detentions, and until May 21 to settle unpaid school fines. However, students say they've been told there's nothing they can do about too many absences.

Seniors who attend other high schools in the district say they're well aware of prom eligibility requirements.