Eva Harrison, a senior at Lafayette High School, spent the last several weeks getting ready for her prom, buying and altering her dress and making other preparations.
But she forgot one thing... her prom tickets. And that has now touched off a social media controversy that resulted in her missing her own prom, but being invited to proms in several Kentucky towns, she said. Eva said she has also received messages of support from Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina.
Eva’s mom, Julie Harrison, said she vented on Facebook out of frustration when her daughter was not allowed to buy a last-minute ticket to Lafayette High School’s prom Saturday and missed out on the rite of passage for her senior year.
By Monday afternoon, Julie Harrison’s Facebook post about the situation had been shared more than 3,195 times and had over 2,200 likes or reactions..
Eva Harrison and her mother said she was accustomed to her date buying the prom tickets, but this year her date was a friend who had graduated two years ago. Eva, caught up in buying a dress, getting alterations, and other preparations, didn’t realize until the Thursday night before the prom that she had forgotten tickets, they said.
Eva said administrators did not return emails from her family Thursday night. Classes were canceled in Fayette County Friday so educators could lobby members of the General Assembly in Frankfort, and Eva said she could not get in touch with administrators.
Eva said when she called Lafayette Friday a school receptionist told her that the prom coordinator was at school Friday morning, but the faculty member who was the prom coordinator would not let her buy tickets at school. She said she tried to talk to administrators at the door of the prom at the Carrick House Saturday night, but school officials again would not let her buy a ticket.
Eva Harrison said she takes full responsibility for forgetting to buy tickets. But Julie Harrison told the Herald-Leader, “I guess what it comes down to is that the punishment did not fit the crime.”
Eva Harrison said another parent has reached out to her on Facebook and said her son had to change prom dates at the last minute when his girlfriend broke up with him and that his new date, a sophomore, was not allowed at the prom, either.
Randy Peffer, Fayette county’s chief of high schools, said in a statement Tuesday that “the procedure for purchasing tickets to the prom at Lafayette High School has been the same for well more than decade. Tickets are available for several weeks leading up to the prom and sales end on the Thursday before prom without exception. No tickets are sold the (day) before or at the door to ensure there is ample time to finalize the list of attendees and run requisite background checks.”
“This information is contained in the student handbook, was included on fliers hanging throughout the school and was announced over the school intercom at least seven separate times,” said Peffer.
Peffer said each high school in Fayette County sets parameters and procedures related to prom, which include restrictions on guests from other high schools, younger students or high school graduates. Proms are closed events for the protection of students in attendance, he said.
Eva said school officials said they could not sell her a ticket after Thursday for safety concerns. But Eva said she didn’t think she was a safety concern, because her date had his background check approved. Eva said she turned in documents for her date’s background check about a month ago.
She said her character and academic achievement are well-known to the faculty. She said she has maintained above a 3.5 grade point average all four years, raising it to a weighted 4.2 grade point average first semester this year. She said she had never been in any trouble and is taking dual college and high school credit courses. She said she is a teacher’s aide as well as enrolled in an early childhood development teaching program.
Tickets costing $30 each went on sale for the prom March 26, according to documents provided by the school district. Prom dates who were not Lafayette students had to be approved before prom tickets could be purchased, the documents said. The ticket price increased to $40 for students who waited until Thursday to purchase them, and Eva said she was willing to pay the extra money.
“We love Lafayette,” said Julie Harrison. But she said she was shocked and disappointed that one of her daughter’s last memories of the school she loved will now be marred. The hundreds of people who commented about her post included some who criticized Lafayette’s decision. Others noted that rules are rules and that Eva had several chances to buy tickets.
As of Tuesday morning, Eva said she hadn’t decided whether she was going to take anyone up on the other prom invitations.
Eva said she and her date went ahead and took prom pictures Saturday night and went out to dinner with her friends, but it wasn’t the same as going to the prom.
“I totally missed out on being with all of these people I had grown up with my whole life,.” she said. “The fact that I had to miss out on that because of a simple mistake, it just doesn’t seem fair to me.”