started the week off with a protest and television news cameras on campus, reporting about the exclusion of 35 of DHS’ student leaders from their prom.
The decision to not allow the students into the prom centered on a bottle of mineral water that was suspected of containing alcohol. The students – 35 Junior Class leaders – said they chartered a bus to take them to the prom. But when the bus driver found the bottle and alerted Principal John Barsotti, the students were made to stand outside of their prom, unsupervised, for four hours.
Students say the begged administration to provide a Breathalyzer test as stipulated in the contract, however they say they weren’t Breathalyzed. In addition, their parents said that the administration failed to contact them and tell them about the situation as stipulated in the contract, signed by both the parents and the students.
Now, the school’s administration is in the process of reviewing the very contract that they are accused of breaking.
In an e-mail sent by Dixon High Principal John Barsotti, he wrote: “We are reviewing our current dance policies and the application of those policies and we feel terribly that some of our students were not allowed to attend the prom. The prom is an event that students look forward to throughout their high school career. I am continuing to communicate with individual families who were directly affected Saturday to gain their insights and consider their perspectives.”
While the students protested Monday, donning their prom attire and holding signs that read “I Wasn’t Allowed at My Junior Prom,” Barsotti, Interim Superintendent Brian Dolan and Dixon Unified School Board President Irina Okhremtchouk met to talk about situation and what do to next.
Okhremtchouk said one of the administration’s top priorities is to regain students’ and parents’ trust and confidence that was lost in the aftermath of Promgate and to meet with them, hear them out and talk about an appropriate solution.
“The administration and I met this afternoon and so... there is going to be a series of (additional) meetings between myself and the administration,” she said. “The board is extremely concerned about the situation, what has happened. And we are definitely serious about it and we are looking into the matters. We will need to repair the trust with our parents as well as our students.”
Board president Okhremtchouk said she could not provide comment on the alleged bottle of mineral water containing alcohol left behind the bus that transported the students from Dixon to Elks Tower in Downtown Sacramento, citing a pending investigation.
But at the same time, she said that an apology was warranted.
“I am willing to come out with an apology,” she said, adding that she felt the way that it was handled upset many in the community.
Board member Joe DiPaola, reached by phone on Monday, also said he would like to apologize to the students and their families who were kept out of the prom.
Okhremtchouk made a note that she believes in the DHS administration and said they what happened cannot be undone.
“I believe that we have a decent administration team, whatever decision was made,” she said. “But the fact that the students’ parents were not notified promptly raises concerns.”
Among the parents that were stunned by the outcome of Friday’s prom was Dixon USD Interim Superintendent Brian Dolan. Dolan’s son John, was among the students who rode in the bus and was not allowed to enter the prom.
“I don’t know everything that I need to know yet to make a judgment,” Dolan said. “Bottom line, I know what the intent of the administration was and that was to make sure that prom was drug and alcohol free, the way it’s supposed to be and that kids were safe.”
On Saturday, Dolan drove to Downtown Sacramento to pick up his son and his date, along with another couple and drove them back to Dixon.
“I myself have been part of prom scenarios in the past that were just so difficult to deal with as you are out of town and in a difficult venue,” he said. “Dealing with who did what and who’s willing to tell the truth or not, it’s very, very complicated. It’s a very complicated thing to try to do an investigation. I’m not there yet I have more to learn from it. Nevertheless this really had a big and troubling impact on a lot of kids and families, and I’m sorry for that.”
Asked how is family is taking the aftermath of the prom fiasco Dolan said: “My family is used to seeing challenges come up. My kids grew up with me as a high school principal and as a district administrator. It’s a little unusual being that my son is a piece of this one. We have done a pretty good job of separating work and family. And that’s not always real easy. But my son and our family is no different than any other family going through this. It’s having a disappointment of what was supposed to be a fun and happy night not roll out the way it was intended to be.”
A meeting is tentatively planned at the DHS Theater on Wednesday, at 7:45 p.m. However, confirmation of this meeting has yet to be achieved. Dixon Patch will release the details of the meeting, time date and place, as soon as it receives confirmation from Dixon High School.