Towson High School students and parents are angry and saddened by a situation that they say could ruin many people’s senior prom.
At issue is a deadline set for students to submit a guest form if they plan to take a date who does not attend Towson High. Prom is May 26, and the forms were due April 21.
The form requires the guest’s name; grade; home address; name of parent/guardian; work, cell and home number of parent/guardian; signature of guest; signature of guest’s parent; name of guest’s school; name of school administrator; and the signature of the school administrator.
Parents and students say they were not properly notified that they had to turn in a guest form: It was not on the schools’s website, it did not go out in an email, and there was no robocall. The only notification they had, they say, was as part of the regular announcements over the loudspeakers during homeroom. But students say that homeroom is loud and it’s hard to hear.
“A majority of people hadn’t heard the announcement,” said Morgan Shakoor, a senior at the school. “In all four years at Towson, no one ever listens to the announcements.”
Additionally, the deadline was problematic given the dates of spring breaks, students said. Baltimore County’s spring break was April 11-17, and most private schools had break April 17-21.
So getting a form signed by another school’s administrator by April 21, they say, would have been difficult even if students had known about the form.
Students and parents have spoken with the Towson High administrator who set the deadline, but they say they were told she would not adjust it. The administrator declined to comment for this story.
Shakoor started a petition to not only extend the deadline to May 10, but also to receive an apology from the administrator as well as a plan for better communication in the future.
Shakoor’s mother, Shanelle, visited the school on Friday to discuss the issue and it seems her daughter’s form will be accepted.
“But a lot of my friends went in that week, and I heard all week about people getting rejected,” Shakoor said. “I thought [the administrators] would care about the issues the student body are facing, but I learned I needed an outside adult. [The administrator] was not listening at all to what I had to say. I don’t think it’s fair that I got to turn in my form but my classmates didn’t.”
Baltimore County Public Schools does not have a system-wide policy about guests forms and instead leaves it to the principals to set the rules.
“Guest forms are reviewed by the appropriate administrator. The administrator that oversees student activities has worked with many requests regarding non- Towson guests,” Towson principal Charlene DiMino said in an email to the Flyer. “Any students that have additional concerns in regards to turning in a guest form for a non-Towson student, may speak with [the administrator] by the final day of ticket sales (May 4, 2017).”
The only official information for seniors that I have seen from Towson High School is a flyer entitled “Dates to Remember.” The flyer is on the school website. There is nothing at all stated about Guest Forms. The only thing it says about Prom Ticket sales is that tickets will be sold from April 24th through May 4th before and after school in room 102. This lack of information does not help the situation.. Administrators should communicate clearly with the seniors and all students (and parents). Seniors are under enough end-of-year stress. They should not have to deal with something like this. Prom should have good memories for the seniors. — petition comment
A BCPS spokesman said the system stands by DiMino.
Even Councilman David Marks has gotten involved. He said he contacted the BCPS administration to ask for flexibility and for parents to be heard.
Cheri Pegues, president of the Parent Teacher Student Association, said she supports the students.
“There seems to be a pattern of miscommunication and disorganization regarding student activities. It is not my intention to assign blame, but to offer to help solve the problem. If guest forms must be verified by making phone calls, why not permit me and other PTSA board members to help make the calls? If the administrator in charge needs support, we are more than willing to help,” she said in an email.
“It seems reasonable to extend the due date for guest forms and work together to assure that every senior is permitted to bring his/her respective guest. I believe open communication and collaboration will help resolve this issue,” Pegues said. “I contacted Principal Charlene DiMino over the weekend when I was made aware of the petition and requested a meeting. The meeting was declined by administration.”
There was absolutely no information handed out to the senior class about prom. We basically had to find out everything on our own. We should’ve had a guest form extended date period. I don’t understand we have a extended week for prom tickets, but not a extended week for guest forms for prom. I give a U for Unfair –comment on petition
Pegues also said that while she supports a deadline extension, she was troubled by some of the comments left on the petition. One, which has since been deleted, included a racial slur.
“The PTSA strongly denounces this type of behavior and encourages the THS community to behave in a civil manner,” she said. “In light of these disgraceful comments, the petition has been removed from the PTSA Facebook page.”
Shakoor said she shares those feelings.
“It’s very disappointing that some people are using the petition as a platform to promote hate and use insulting language,” she said. “This is about inspiring positive change and, and I encourage anyone to contact me about inappropriate comments so that I can delete them immediately.”
I have always thought these forms being due any earlier than 1 week before the event seemed ridiculous. Kids are deciding on dates up to the last minute and I thought it was about going, not limiting and making going difficult. –comment on petition
Monica Henderson, whose daughter is a senior at Towson High, said she feels administrators are saying “I made a rule and I’ll be damned if anyone’s going to change it.”
“Why are they digging their heels in over something that can be so simply resolved?” Henderson asked.
“It leaves me worried that if we can’t deal with little stuff, what are we doing about the big stuff?” Henderson said. “I have good, sensible kids and they’ll be fine regardless, but some people need more support in school, and are we too busy worrying about guest forms to worry about the big stuff?”
When asked if she was nervous about posting the petition, Shakoor said she wasn’t too worried about the teachers because “we see them everyday and we have a closer relationship — most teachers I enjoy and feel they care about our education.”
But she was “a little apprehensive” about speaking out in opposition to the administration.
“But at the end of the day I knew this had to be said. The PTSA is fully behind me and I feel like I’m not as apprehensive as I was before,” she said. “A lot of students had this problem and I know that together we can try to make a difference at our school.”