News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
SUNDAY, APRIL 15, 2007

Ex-Brewer student ‘not in good standing,’ unable to attend prom

By Bayne Hughes · 340-2432

Roman Freeman admits he “made a dumb mistake” when he took drugs onto the Brewer High School campus, but he doesn’t understand why that mistake is keeping him from attending prom with his girlfriend.

In January, Brewer suspended Freeman for 10 days and the Morgan County school board gave him a choice of expulsion or going to the Morgan Learning Center alternative school for having marijuana on campus.

He was already failing five of seven subjects and had missed at least five days. The suspension’s unexcused absences meant he would fail his senior year.

Freeman said the counselor told him he was wasting his time at the alternative school since he was going to fail anyway, advising him to quit school and earn his General Education Diploma.

Brewer High School Principal Frances Couey is stalwart in her refusal to let Freeman attend Saturday’s prom. She said he didn’t complete his punishment — alternative school attendance — so he is not in “good standing” with the school.

“Prom is an extracurricular activity, so it’s a privilege, not a right,” Couey said. “He made a poor choice, and then he didn’t follow through with the punishment. Now he’s whining about it.”

Learning Center Principal Lane Dillard said her counselor, who is now on a leave of absence, wouldn’t tell someone to quit school, but “if he sees a student is bound and determined to quit, he’ll encourage him to get a GED.”

Freeman’s mom, Candy McBride, said they thought he was going to alternative school to keep from falling behind in school, not as punishment. Couey insists Freeman knew it was punishment. She said that, even if Freeman had stayed at the learning center, he still wouldn’t be eligible to attend prom.

Freeman said he feels like he paid for his crime, and he’s done everything asked of him from the school and to get over his legal problems. He stayed away from school events, not getting to watch his girlfriend compete in her athletic events. He got a full-time job, and he’s almost ready to test for his GED. His crying girlfriend shocked him when she called and said Brewer wouldn’t let her buy a prom ticket for him.

His girlfriend had already spent $400 on a dress, and he had already rented a $100 tuxedo.

“I’m no longer associated with the school, so she should be able to bring me as a guest like other people do,” Freeman said. “This is really more difficult on her. This is her senior prom, and she didn’t get to go last year.”

Morgan County Superintendent Bob Balch backed his principal.

“The learning center is part of the discipline process,” Balch said. “He didn’t complete his discipline, so he’s not allowed to attend prom.”

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