Prom Shut-Outs: Dressed Up and No Place to Go

Kids booted out for marijuana mix-up, over-21 dates and Christian morality rule.

May 8, 2009, 6:08 PM

May 11, 2009— -- Sarah Heideman's dreams went up in smoke, literally, last weekend when she and her date were barred from entering their senior prom at Colorado's Brighton High School.

Her boyfriend of two years reeked of pot, and police refused to let him in to the dance. But Jason Schweinsberg, who is often wracked with pain because of injuries from a car accident, has a legal prescription for medical marijuana.

Now, Heideman, 18, has retained a lawyer and wants someone to pay for the $500 she had spent on her dress, dinner, hair and prom tickets.

"I was crying horribly and sometimes when I think of it, it still bring tears to my eyes," Heideman told "I got a peek in and all my friends were there and everyone was walking by the door and seeing me crying."

Heideman is just one of several disappointed students who have been shut out of the penultimate event of senior year -- the over-the-top prom, with its lavish tuxedos and gowns, private limousines and expensive dinner reservations.

Others students across the country report rules that bar older dates and even a Christian school policy that outlaws rock music and dancing.

Heideman says that as the couple entered Denver's Wings Over the Rockies Museum in Denver for the prom, a high school resource officer stopped the pair at the door.

Schweinsberg, who is 21 and works in construction, showed his permit issued by the state's medical marijuana program, but no one listened.

He may legally use the drug for morning headaches because of the fractured skull he suffered in a head-on collision when he was 16. Schweinsberg even let police search his car, where they found nothing but an unused pot pipe.

"I want to say I was traumatized because of the stereotypes people have," said Heideman, who is a stellar student, plays volleyball and is in the jazz band and hopes one day to marry Schweinsberg. "They wouldn't let me past the front door."

"Mostly, I want an apology for what I didn't get experience - to have my night," she told

When police called Heideman's parents, they explained the situation.

"I begged and pleaded: 'Just let the couple in and let them dance, and if they make one mistake, throw them out,'" said her mother, Joan Heideman. "' He's a medical marijuana person. He's not abusive or out of control like a drunk.'"

Prom Night Humilation

But school officials say having school resource officers, as well as administrators and faculty chaperones at events such as the prom are standard protocol.

"We have procedures for entering any dance on or off site, checking to make sure they don't bring inappropriate materials like drugs and alcohol," said Janet Wyatt, lawyer for Colorado's District 27J. "Every student is talked to for their safety and this is what happened in this case."

Wyatt also said that Heideman was allowed to enter the prom without her date.

"Sarah is a very, shy and quite reserved person," said her mother. "This is a once in a lifetime thing and now she can never have that memory. It was humiliating for Sarah, leaving her at the door with all the cops around."

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Megan Lucas and Samantha Offenbacker, who are both 18, are fighting not be locked out of the May 16 prom. Their principal at Spotwood High School insists their dates violate school rules because they are over 21.

Their dresses have been bought and their boyfriends have rented tuxes, but Principal Timothy Woodward won't consider their special request.

"The age we set is to best protect the integrity of a high school event," he told ABC's affiliate, citing concerns about alcohol being smuggled in to the dance.

But the girls insist that the school handbook allows for an exception -- "No one over 20 years old will be admitted to any dance unless pre-approved by the administration" -- and they have filed forms that they say the principal is ignoring.

The guess permission form states, "Special permission from the principal must be requested for any guest who exceeds high school age, 20."

School officials say that if the girls were married, they could bring their husbands.

"Does he want us to go out and get married? Teen marriage? Is that what they're trying to do," asked Lucas, a good student who wants to be an anesthesiologist.

Locked Out of Prom

"I feel like I earned this because I have represented the school through athletics and academics and doing good things for the clubs and the community," said Offenbacker.

She cannot understand why the school would not welcome her boyfriend – a Navy reservist who wants to be a military policeman – who was approved and attended her Homecoming dance.

"He is trying to get into law enforcement, so he's not going to do something to jeopardize my graduation or his own future," she told

Her stepfather is astounded the school would reject his daughter's boyfriend, Jordan O'Roark. "He's a really good boy," said Michael Payton, who argued with both the principal and the school board.

Adrenna Lucas, 24, said her sister Megan's boyfriend Josh Mullens, a 21-year-old plumber, had played football for Spotswood and had even chaperoned some school events.

"He comes over and helps my parents mow the yard and when my Dad had back surgery, he came out and mulched and flowered for my Mum," she told "He's a good guy."

The girls were told they could attend alone, but Offenbacker says, "I'm not the type of person who just goes to a dance with girls, especially when I dated this boy for over a year. I wouldn't feel right."

The girls' parents offered to chaperone the May 16 prom, but the school declined.

"I'm more upset than she is," said Offenbacker's mother, Wendy Payton. "This is ridiculous and so sad that this is her last dance as a high school student."

"We teach her to be who she wants to be and what you put into something is what you get out of it. When she is wrong, we hold her accountable, and when she does right, we support her," Payton told "She is not asking for policy to be broken or to bend the rules."

The Paytons are also looking for an apology and if the principal does not budge, they plan to have a private prom party at a nearby skating rink.

"She was a cheerleader and supporter of Spotswood 100 percent," said her mother. "We are devasted. I am not stopping until the very end. She has earned this."

Christian School Bans Prom

So too, has Tyler Frost, 17, of Findlay, Ohio, who in his senior year has never attended a prom. He is being threatened with suspension if he attends a prom with his public school girlfriend, but he refuses to be shut out.

Frost, 17, attends Heritage Christian High School, where dancing, listening to rock music and holding hands and kissing is outlawed.

He attended the Findlay High School prom on Saturday, perhaps foreiting his graduation.

Heritage, which did not answer calls from, has said that he will get an "incomplete" on his remaining assignments and won't be allowed to attend his May 24 graduation.

He could eventually get his diploma if he completes his final exams.

"He deserves to wear that cap and gown," Frost's step-father Stephan Johnson told the Associated Press.

Findlay High School requires students from other schools attending the prom to get a signature from their principal, which Frost did. But that tipped off his own school, which warned him of the dire consequences.

Frost attended with the blessing of Findlay's principal Craig Kupferberg, who boasts alumni such as Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

"We allow our students to invite guests as long as they check it out with the school," he told

"That's a small Christian school and I respect their values, but I don't happen to agree," Kupferberg said. "I don't see (dancing and rock music) as immoral acts."