Local teen denied going to prom
For many teenagers, dressing up and going to prom is a rite of passage, but this past weekend, one local student was denied the experience.
Corsages, shoes, the perfect dress, and even a date; Hannah Cooper had everything she needed for her junior prom... except a ticket.
"I tried on about six [dresses] and then I finally found my dress and it was the one," Cooper said.
"She went in Monday to turn in her form for her date and to buy tickets and when she went in they told her they didn't think she was going to be able to go," Natasha Cooper, Hannah's mother said.
Hannah was a student at Walton High School until her sophomore year when her mother pulled her out due to health concerns. Now she attends Florida virtual school.
"She [the principal] told me she didn't think that I would be allowed to go because I didn't attend her school full time," Hannah said.
Florida law says home-educated students are eligible to participate in the public schools' interscholastic extracurricular activities if they meet certain requirements, which Walton High School Principal Janet Currid said Cooper does not.
"Walton High School is not listed as a secondary school for this student and because she's not, she's not our student and we only allow students at Walton High School and their approved dates, dates who have gone through an approval process, to attend our prom," Currid said.
School officials said it comes down to safety concerns.
"We are definitely not trying to exclude students at Walton High School and within our school district, but we are trying to keep our students safe and it becomes an issue of safety when we start letting students attend our events who are not students of our school or students within our Walton County School District," Currid added.
The event was Saturday, and although Cooper tells us she and her date tried to make the most out of the night, she said she is devastated she will never have those memories of a junior prom.
"It just makes me upset that I wasn't allowed to go and hang out with friends and just be a part of the whole experience," Hannah said tearfully.
The Coopers said even though Hannah couldn't attend this weekend's prom, they will continue to fight for other home-educated students to have the chance to go in the future.