Member of The 35 Suing Dixon High Principal, School District

A Dixon High School student and her mother have filed a lawsuit against Dixon Unified School District and Principal John Barsotti seeking damages of $7,500

The next chapter of Promgate is being written in a Solano County courtroom.

On May 31, Dixon High School parent Melody Williams and her daughter, Miranda, filed a lawsuit against Dixon Unified School District and Dixon High School Principal John Barsotti seeking damages they say were brought on by Promgate.

Melody and Miranda Williams are suing the school district and Barsotti for $7,500 for costs associated with the prom as well as emotional distress brought on by Promgate according to a story published in the Vacaville Reporter.

On April 28, 35 students from the school's Junior Class leadership, including Miranda Williams, were denied entry into the school's prom held at Elks Tower in Sacramento. The students were denied entry into the prom when a bottle of vitamin water containing a small amount of alcohol was found on the bus the students chartered.

The students say that the school violated the dance contract, which called for the Dixon High to breathalyze the students and notify their parents if they are suspected of consuming alcohol at the dance. Neither of the two items in the dance contract happened and students were left to stand outside of the prom, many say without supervision, for several hours while their peers danced the night away.

Principal John Barsotti apologized to the students during a special meeting at Dixon High School.

At that meeting, Barsotti stated: "I am very sorry for how I handled the situation, having students be upset. I wish I could have done things better. That was my fault. There's no question, I was reponsible."

Interim Superintendent Brian Dolan, who's son was also a part of The 35 and was denied entrance into the prom, said he did not fully scrutinize the dance contract when he received the call on the evening of the prom informing him of the bottle of alcohol.

Dolan, Barsotti and the District formed a Promgate commitee in an attempt to revise the dance contract and find a way for the events of April 28 to never happen again. At a recent school board meeting, Dolan told the school board that the committee had met, but none of the students were present, only two of their parents had participated.

Board president Irina Okhremtchouk directed staff to continue meeting and reach out to The 35 and ask them to be part of the committee.

According to the Vacaville Reporter Melody and Miranda Williams are seeking $617.64 for prom expenses along with $6,882.23 in punitive damages.

The civil trial is scheduled for July 2, at 1 p.m., Small Claims Court, Room 303 at the Fairfield Hall of Justice.

Now we put the question to the readers of Dixon Patch. Did the school and the district do enough to compensate the students who were denied entry into the prom?

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Don Griffey June 18, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Another disgraceful money grab by a supposedly wronged or offended party. It is a prom - big deal. Lick your wounds, gripe and move on. But don't go running to a lawyer seeking punitive damages! It is good thing you got parents, teachers and authorities actually fulfilling the roles. It is a poor example for the 35 on how to deal with life. NO sympathy from Don
Eva C June 18, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Has an official ruling come out at who is at fault? Not sure how the judge can award money if all the facts are not heard. If he does give her money I hope its just for the cost of the prom.
Scott Smith June 18, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Please do not associate all of the 35 with this lawsuit. This suit was from ONE of the 35. That needs to be very clear so people like the above do not think others from this group support the lawsuit.
Debby Gabriel June 18, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Good for this Mom, this student was held back from having one of the most memorable moments in her life, it was distroyed and she can never get it back. The principle should have held to the contract just as he would have upheld that against the stundents. I say HURRY and hope you win what you are asking in court!!!!!
Lisa Geraty June 18, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Yes, the Pricipal handled the situation poorly. Yes, it in not fair those students weren't allowed into their Prom. Does that warrent a lawsuit for damages? Maybe, in our sue happy society. But it's also an opportunity to teach a life lesson to those students. Life isn't always fair, things don't always go as planned. Who will be the biggest loser in this lawsuit (especially if others from the group sue)? With the tight state budget for schools, it's the innocent bystanders- the other students who lose services, the teachers who may get pink slips who otherwise wouldn't have.
Robin Madden June 19, 2012 at 12:31 AM
There is much more behind Barsotti than just promgate! Most people in Dixon don't know that he was asked to resign from Fairfield for shall we say more poor decision making! There was no excuse for his actions in the way the kids at the prom were treated! And their well being put in jeopardy ! He should have been fired on the spot! The school district should no be sued, Barsotti should!!!
Debbie Robinson June 19, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Good for you mirranda!!! So one needs to stand up for what they no was wrong. I just don't get how some people want to stick up for this pricipal??? He was wrong an he is wrong with a lot of other decisions he has made.. Ever since this man has came to Dixon high we have been on the new a few times.. That makes Dixon high look bad like we have a bad school. People don't want there kids to go here.. I know a few that have been at Dixon high for 3 years an they are going to a different school cuz of this principal what's that saying?? Come on we have more then just him that has made are school look like a disgrace.., everyone just sits back an complains but doesn't do anything about it. Well miranda you go girl stand up for what you believe in that is right and who cares what other think. Plus people say oh the budget really well if they would of got the breath alisers like they said they had then none of this would be happening!!!! Such a disgrace for Dixon high..
Ari June 19, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Just like an event that you are denied access, if anything the only damages that should be awarded are the face value of the dance ticket. That is it. You wore the dress, rode the party bus and got to the door.
Aaron June 19, 2012 at 01:18 AM
My brain is now sore.
Aaron June 19, 2012 at 01:36 AM
No doubt the kids got the raw end of the deal on this one. It was a horrible outcome, and the kids deserved better. However, there is no way the judge will award punitive or emotional damages to the tune of 7K. The claim is worth the cost of the tickets. Unlike how it's been handled up 'till now, "Small Claims Court" is not a court of "Public Opinion", it's a court of law. The rule of law will prevail.
Mark June 19, 2012 at 04:22 AM
I'm ok with some sort of suit to teach the school a lesson. These kids lost more than ticket cost. To most teens prom isn't just a dance. No judge is going to award 7,500 though. To those who said basically suck it up it's a life lesson, what lesson are you teaching your kids? When someone wrongs you you should just lay down and take it ??? WRONG teach them to be strong and stand up for themselves.Dont let Anyone walk all over you.These kids had a contract that was broken. What life lesson says a contract means nothing? Not your car contract or house contract or any business contract and NOT a school contract.
Carlos Villatoro June 19, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Hi just a friendly reminder to keep the discussion on the topic. Thanks.
karen moraes June 19, 2012 at 05:51 AM
I agree with Melody and Debbie. The people that didn't have a kid there or were not present; don't even have a clue of what took place or how kids and parents were treated. How Barsotti is a bold face liar;he lied to the kids and parents! On every issue!! I guess that's why he was fired from 2 schools; but who's counting! Better yet let him screw up our school and our kids HS years; which is their teen years. HE is the problem!! He told the kids he believed (in his great mind) that it was a certain senior; thats why he seperated the juniors & seniors. So no matter who came to him and said the bottle was theirs; he wasn't going to let them in until he got who he wanted! What is the Prom for anyways? I know: to hurt the kids and show them injustice and punish them and make them guilty...NO it is THEIR Prom and their teen years not yours!! Barsotti didn't let them in to use the bathroom or have water; for over 1hr 45min! Wow that's a nice life lesson! Also let them rome with out any supervision into downtown Sac. Where 2 weeks earlier there was a rape and he wasn't caught. If something like that happen to my daughter or son there would be hell to pay. All because of (Barsotti) didn't want to let them in. Well, he let others in who were drunk and 1 who had to be taken to the hospital. He had plenty of ways out; they asked for the CHP to come and Barsotti denied that! He could have had Angela who works for the Dixon PD to come down. ETC..IF U weren't there get ALL your facts 1st
Melody June 19, 2012 at 02:09 PM
We care about the budget we aren't greedy people but when you break a contract, leave me child in a dangerous situation with no contact to parents to make us parents aware of the situation and lastly her reputation has been ruined as being labeled as on of those 35 students... The dance contract stated that students would be given breathalyzers but the didn't have any on site, an office offered to come down to give them Barsotti said no...My daughter paid for her expenses and we are only doing what we feel is right.
bill June 19, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Can you explain why 40 kids (17 year olds) hanging around on a sidewalk in mid town sacramento is such a dangerous situation? They are only 2 years away from possibly enlisting and being shipped off to a place where they are routinely shot at. You don't let her out of the house without adult supervision? "no contact to parents"- Do you mean to say your daughter doesn't have a cell phone ?
Miranda L. June 19, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Unfortunately ANY $$$$ awarded in this frivolous lawsuit will come out of the District's general fund $$$$$$ AND once again the students in DUSD will have to take the backseat..... maybe next time this parent will pay more as much attention to who her daughter is hanging around rather than what it takes to take a school district to small claims court and receive punitive damages for distress! Just a reminder, THERE IS NO $$$$ SET ASIDE FOR LAWSUITS, SO WHEN YOU SUE THE DISTRICT YOU ARE TAKING AWAY FROM THE STUDENTS AS A WHOLE!
brook stiler June 22, 2012 at 03:31 AM
'We're not greedy people, but....." It's her party and everyone else gets to watch. I guess the district's role is a baby sitting service and facilitator for popularity contests so you might as well get everything you can. Will this be shared amongst the families of the 35?
Teri Ruggiero June 22, 2012 at 04:10 AM
If I were a concerned parent that my child was being put in harm's ways or that something completely unfair was happening, I would have driven the 40 minutes to Sacramento and escorted my teenager (and all others) into the Prom. I am sure other parents would have joined me too! No teacher or administrator would have stopped me/us. Why didn't that happen - where were these concerned parents that night?
karen moraes June 24, 2012 at 05:28 AM
You are totally right Mark! It is to teach the school a lesson. The school hired Barsotti who was fired from 2 other schools. The last school he was at he tried to set up a teacher by lying and tried to get him fired twice; but the teacher stood up and fought and won. Barsotti wanted to make all kids TRUANT who went to the to the May Fair for the week with their animal; if you were not in FFA or 4H! He wanted to change the school colors etc...Who suffers?? OUR kids and it is dead WRONG!!! But others say suck it up for a life's lesson. Thanks for your great comment and level thinking. We need better LEADERS in our school and until we get better leaders; we are only as good as our leadership!
M Mata July 05, 2012 at 07:57 PM
In reading all of these comments, the frustration, anger and greediness in all of them; there is more to life than a prom dance and being rewarded for not having been allowed in and punishing the one in authority for making the wrong decision. As if each one of us did not err. This is all so "RIDICULOUS". Such a waste of energy. Sure sue the School District...make them pay or is it "MAKE US PAY". We, the taxpayers, will be paying for all this and the kids that follow behind. Make peace and get over it.
Gary Erwin July 06, 2012 at 01:57 AM
I think it is in everyone’s best interest to not sue the district and move on and mend the wounds. The Principal that made the poor decision has lost his contract. He has effectively been fired and a new well liked assistant has been promoted into the opening. This is two wins by my count… If you sue the district now it will be a loss for the schools and the community. All of the goodwill that you gained for helping with the “change” will be lost. Try to see the trees through the forest…give up the suit and let it go. You won already…going for the money now will be seen as pure greed.


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