It's Not Who You Come With, It's Who Takes You Home

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A Cape Cod high school is running criminal background checks on prom dates:

Eckert and Roderick are two of at least six [Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School] seniors whose dates cannot attend Saturday night's prom at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis because records checks revealed their dates had some type of criminal history…

To purchase tickets, students interested in bringing non-D-Y dates had to submit a consent form signed by both the D-Y student and guest as well as guardians for both. They also had to provide the school with their dates' driver's licenses so photocopies could be made.

This is just common sense: Prom flicks teach us that every good prom ends in murder. Or a successful makeover. Other fun tips for the most romantic night of your life:

In addition to background checks for non-D-Y students, there is a restriction preventing any guests aged 21 or older from attending the prom…. The school also randomly selects students to take an alcohol breath test at the door.

NEXT: Pride After a Fall?

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  1. Speaking of prom…from an article in The Onion today about a girl dying in a cliched way:

    “Add to that the fact that we didn’t get together until my eyes were finally opened in this big emotional revelation when I found out my football-player boyfriend was cheating on me with my best friend, the meanest but most popular girl in school, causing me to renounce my popularity and finally get together with the boy who really loved me all along, only to get elected prom queen anyway in a last-minute upset over the aforementioned mean popular girl everybody assumed was going to win? That’s the plot of every movie made between 1979 and 1986!”

    It’s funny AND true.

    Anyway, why not just lock these kids in their basements for the night? I mean, cuz, y’know, going out into the world is dangerous! They could get hurt, even killed! Who knows how, or why, but why take chances?

  2. I remember this one prom where they dropped pig’s blood on the prom queen and she ended up trashing the whole town. More than half the graduating class died. I hope the school is taking firm measures to ensure THAT never happens again.

  3. Fromt the article Erica’s date, 19-year-old Russell Robie, faced a possession of alcohol charge when he was 18, Kathy Eckert said last night.

    It’s good to see that they’re using the checks to keep out dangerous felons. If I remember right, proms are generally horrible to begin with, but background checks and breathalyser tests must really suck the fun out of them,

  4. Worse yet, they could get massively sexed up!

    (Then there’s the other end of the spectrum, where parents are providing hotel rooms for their little darlings’ post-prom ahem, activities.)

  5. A school district near my house did a breathalyzer test on every single kid who showed up for the prom. But don’t worry! The kids had no problem with that, and actually thought it made for a better prom. How do I know this? Because a couple of kids said so at the last Board of Education meeting (everybody knows that if you want to find a typical, everyday high school kid, the place to look is a Monday-night Board of Ed meeting). Yes, the kids love knowing they have an excuse to Just Say No to peer pressure telling them to drink.

  6. I have zero problem with any of this. Anything that hastens the death of the prom is fine with me. What a stupid ritual.

  7. I can only assume the prom photos were taken next to a height chart and included front-on and profile shots, as well as the students’ names.

  8. So, do the applicants have to wait 5 days before they can get into the doors?

    What about the teachers/principals/food servers?

    I’ve heard background checks aren’t done usually on government employees or school teachers, especially in a time when people complain of a teacher shortage. How can we know this isn’t being done to limit competition between date-rapers or lewd drunken druggies?

  9. MP, I don’t care one way or the other about the future of the prom tradition, but this is just one more instance of kids being conditioned to put up with unnecessary crap from authority. Breathalyzer tests and criminal background checks to go to a damned dance? At the rate we’re going, just you wait: within ten years or less I’ll bet some school tries to do drug testing or breathalyzer tests on ALL students before letting them into class.

  10. I remember this one prom where they dropped pig’s blood on the prom queen and she ended up trashing the whole town. More than half the graduating class died. I hope the school is taking firm measures to ensure THAT never happens again.

    Jennifer, that’s priceless! Someone mentioned the Onion above, and that comment would fit perfectly in my favorite Onion feature: American Voices.

  11. there is a restriction preventing any guests aged 21 or older from attending the prom

    Ahh man, I was totally gonna ask Virginia Postrel to go to the prom with me to. This sucks.

  12. A 17-year-old girl with a 19-year-old date? If the usual prom plan plays out, wouldn’t that be statutory rape?

  13. Prom was a waste of money and time in both instances. My junior year my date spent the entire night flirting with a friend of mine, and my senior year my date spent the entire night lamely chatting with her lame friends…then had to go home early.

    Ught, I ever have a little statistical anomaly my advice will be don’t bother going unless you’re sure you’ll get some.

  14. At the rate we’re going, just you wait: within ten years or less I’ll bet some school tries to do drug testing or breathalyzer tests on ALL students before letting them into class.

    Schools are already testing students that are involved in extracurricular activities. I?ll bet that the schools will conduct criminal back round checks on students that want to get involved in extracurricular activities.

  15. Schools would be stupid NOT to do this, what with Dave W and his ilk prowling about. If a student was raped/murdered by her criminal-history-possessing date after prom, and discovery revealed that the school did nothing to prevent him and her being together that night…

  16. Does anybody have any legal insight on this situation?

  17. I don’t care one way or the other about the future of the prom tradition, but this is just one more instance of kids being conditioned to put up with unnecessary crap from authority.

    I don’t think it’s necessarily that sinister. More likely, there was a fight, stomach pumping, or something at an earlier dance, and this is the overreaction. I guess it’s a byproduct of treating every isolated incident as something that should have been anticipated and prevented in order to claim that as many people as possible were negligent.

  18. scape,

    I believe MA is the only state that where a 17-year-old cannot consent, and even there it’s debatable.

    Don’t ask me how I know this. 😉

  19. I guess I’ll be the odd man out here, but I have no problem with background checks if they’re restricted only to crimes of violence. Of course, in this case, the fools locked out kids for pretty much anything (one was convicted for possession of alcohol).

    I also have no problem with an age restriction. Who the fuck wants a bunch of college-age (or even older) horndogs prowling around? Like I’ve said before, kids should play with kids their own age.

  20. Schools would be stupid NOT to do this, what with Dave W and his ilk prowling about. If a student was raped/murdered by her criminal-history-possessing date after prom, and discovery revealed that the school did nothing to prevent him and her being together that night…

    crimethink,
    We are talking about students with petty alcohol offenses. I can see if the students in question had a history of rape, murder,and/or other violent offenses, but alcohol offenses? Come on.

  21. I think crimethink’s point is valid. When towns, school boards, and staff have reason to fear that they’ll be held liable for the actions of student or guest attending the prom, this is the kind of thing they’re going to try.

  22. Let me correct myself that 21 is well into college age. This allows a senior (at the time) come back for the freshman’s (at the time) prom.

    That is certainly reasonable. Anything beyond that is not.

  23. I had a blast at prom. What’s wrong with you people? 🙂 Of course, my date and my friends left the formal event about an hour after it started.

  24. I don’t care one way or the other about the future of the prom tradition, but this is just one more instance of kids being conditioned to put up with unnecessary crap from authority.

    Crimethink is right in that liability issues are partly to blame. But I see this as being a good lesson. If you want freedom, don’t seek it from the goverment, ’cause that’s not what they’re about.

  25. He took little Susie to the Junior Prom
    Excitable boy, they all said
    And he raped her and killed her, then he took her home
    Excitable boy, they all said
    Well, he’s just an excitable boy

  26. Does anybody have any legal insight on this situation?

    I had to undergo a CORI background check before I started teaching in Massachusetts. If I recall correctly, you have to sign a consent form before anybody can use CORI to check your background. So I’m not sure that what the school is doing here is legal.

    Of course, it wouldn’t surprise me if the legislature changed the law to allow principals and administrators to do CORI checks on people without their knowledge or consent.

  27. Pro – yeah, I had a good time at both proms I went to. I took two girls to my junior prom, and a hotty Spanish chick to my senior prom.

    Plus, like you, we didn’t stick around for the whole thing…we had better things to do.

    Besides, you couldn’t drink and smoke at the prom.

  28. A school district near my house did a breathalyzer test on every single kid who showed up for the prom.

    Everyone knows you get stoned before the prom, and get drunk after. Geez.

  29. One assumes that they are checking to make sure that none of the participants are zombies, vampires, or have summoned demonic hounds trained to attack formalwear?

  30. And, Lunchstealer:

    they have a high-pressure water jet onhand just in case!

  31. Anyone who is cool is heading to the Alterna-Prom the 09ers are throwing at the Neptune Grand.

  32. Somehow this just doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. It is, after all, a high school function. The rules for my high school prom, way back in the Stone Age, were even more strict than this.

    See it’s a matter of choice. If you’re a dating a guy that it’s illegal to have sex with then just maybe you shouldn’t bring him to the prom.

    This would have been comment number 1. I clicked post, left the office for three hours, came back, to discover it hasn’t posted.

  33. Well, I’m surprised that the parents are okay with their kids dating people with criminal records.

    Anyway, I’m with MP, whatever hastens the death of Prom is A-ok with me.

  34. If you’re a dating a guy that it’s illegal to have sex with then just maybe you shouldn’t bring him to the prom.

    It’s illegal to have sex with a guy who got caught drinking underage? Dammit, why is everything I like against the law?!?

  35. “The girls claim the school provided no indication their dates would be subjected to a formal criminal records check, but D-Y principal Kenneth Jenks, citing the consent form, said ”the guest agrees that we do the check.”

    Sounds like they might have put it in the fine print.

  36. I hate to sound like a teacher, I am one, so don’t hold it against me.

    The students have essentially brought this upon themselves. I have had the pleasure of attending dozens of proms. Normally, I am all for looking the other way. After all, I was young and stupid once too. The problem, students have this amazing ability of pushing things to unreasonable limits.

    Here is a list of things I’ve witnessed at prom.

    Students too drunk to stand.
    Students projectile vomit on one another.
    Students who projectile vomit on teachers.
    Students (female obviously) in dresses that make a stripper look respectable.
    Students who freak dance in such a way, they make the last lap dance I got seem tame.
    Students who boink or do other sexual activities at the prom.
    Students too stoned to be coherent.
    Students fight.
    Girls fight over boys.

    In response to this behavior we have do the following:

    1. If you are a behavioral problem you may not buy a ticket. (Students have multiple chances, Yadaa Yadaa Yadaa, you have to be a complete moron, to not be allowed to go to prom.)

    2. If your date is from another school, they must submit ID. Seems reasonable to me, shouldn’t the school know who is attending a school function?

    3. Students are searched before they enter the prom. (No, we are not like the school in San Diego, that checked to see if Girls are wearing thongs.)

    4. Obviously drunk or drugged students are given a field sobriety test by a uniformed police officer and arrested if found under the influence.

    Prom, is one of the few activities that my wife and I actually look forward to. We go to “Prom” every year, get our picture taken, buy a corsage, go out to dinner, and unlike in high school I generally get lucky. It is fun to see the kids dress up, the kids get to see me in a more relaxed and human atmosphere, and they get to meet my wife who I have talked about all year. 99% of students behave well and have a good time. Like most things in life it is ALWAYS the 1% who ruin it.

    Finally, does this cut down on the drugs, booze, and sex, nope the kids do it after prom, duh. But, after prom it is no longer the responsibility of the school and we are not the ones who are going to get sued.

    Regards

    Joe Dokes

  37. Jennifer, LOL

    Joe Dokes, that was a funny post. Glad you get lucky.

    I don’t even want my kids to go to high school, much less go to the prom.

  38. It’s illegal to have sex with a guy who got caught drinking underage? Dammit, why is everything I like against the law?!?

    Jen, is that why you ain’t teaching any more?

    Rimshot!

    Like some of the others-I’m here all week.

  39. Ok, on prom night you can’t date someone with a criminal record, but the rest of the year is ok. This will really help the kiddies.

    On prom night while you are at the prom, you face more restrictions than usual on booze. Once you leave those restricitons are gone, and the rest of the year those extra restrictions are gone also. This will really help the kiddies too.

    Good thing we have the government to protect our youngsters 1 day of their lives. It would be terrible if something happened to them on that special day. The rest of their lives? Fuck ’em.

  40. Here is a list of things I’ve witnessed at prom: Students too drunk to stand (etc.)

    So kick these people out, rather than making the entire student body go through the guilty-until-proven-innocent bit. In theory, these schools are supposed to be teaching these almost-adults about how to be free citizens of a free democratic republic, not training them to meekly submit to authority.

  41. “So kick these people out, rather than making the entire student body go through the guilty-until-proven-innocent bit. In theory, these schools are supposed to be teaching these almost-adults about how to be free citizens of a free democratic republic, not training them to meekly submit to authority.

    Comment by: Jennifer at May 10, 2006 05:15 PM”

    oh my gawd. that’s sooooooo precious.

    repeat after me class. Let’s correct this misanthropic anthrodoid (stand up there, rob, dan, john (the “military” “man”):

    IF YOU’RE INNOCENT, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR

    balls. (insert parochial school joke here RE: meekly submitting to authority right here)

    toodles…

  42. Jennifer,

    We DO kick these kids out, as I said in the post. We have an officer examine each student as they enter and ARREST them if the appear intoxicated. My point was that the entire reason that we have the officer, have photo copies of non-student id’s is as a result of past student behavior.

    We now for better or worse, treat prom as a priviledge, as a result, students who have truancies, who have been disruptive in class, students who have been suspended for various reasons are not allowed to go.

    Do we treat our students as “innocent” until proven guilty? Sort of, the days of just going to the activities office and buying a ticket are long gone. Do students have to “prove” they are innocent. To some extent, they have to show our school that they have mangaged to stay out of trouble and show up to school, in order to engage in a school function.

    Do I “approve” of the fact that EVERY purse, is searched, EVERY student wanded for weapons? No, but I also know that if you wand a black kid but not a white one, you’ll get sued, so in response you wand everyone. Or in my schools case, black, hispanic, east asian, south asian, southeast asian, middle eastern,and white.

    I do however, approve of students showing a minimal amount of responsibility before they buy a ticket. I approve of a reasonable amount of security, so that I and my students can be safe. I approve of having documented all the attendees of a prom to prevent problems.

    The real issue here is what is reasonable. Should students be cavity searched? How about a metal detector? How about armed police officers? How about tests for alcohol? How about field sobriety tests? What rules, procedures, and requirements would YOU impose, if any? Are you going to be only reactive? proactive?

    And finally, remeber, since you are being resonable, you will piss off people on the right and left, thus being hit in traffic going in both directions.

    Next, your question of what to submit to and what not to. Honey, this is academia, we only preach the Bill of Rights, we don’t actually practice it.

    regards

    Joe Dokes

    By the way, your right, we Don’t teach students to be good students.

  43. Well, I’m on record as saying that we should oppress the heck out of students. Being permissive over the last twenty years didn’t make them more libertarian as adults; maybe a totalitarian school system will 🙂 Not to mention that a good teacher should always be a tyrant at heart–you vill learn or you vill pay ze conzequenzes.

  44. We have an officer examine each student as they enter and ARREST them if the appear intoxicated.

    It’s usually not hard to spot the kids who are that drunk. Like you said yourself, some were projectile vomitting on each other and teachers and were having a hard time standing up. Once you observe questionable behavior, then it should be dealt with instead of giving sobriety tests at the door.

    I just don’t think that someone potentially being drunk at prom is a good reason to setup checkpoint people at the door. People who become a problem can be dealth with once they actually, you know, cause a problem.

    It’s this rush to be “proactive” that is troubling. Being proactive has devolved into being militant and instilling zero tolerance policies on the off chance that something MIGHT occur.

  45. I don’t even want my kids to go to high school, much less go to the prom.

    Amen.

  46. “Like most things in life it is ALWAYS the 1% who ruin it.”

    Or could it be that those whose job it is to handle the 1% just don’t want to do their job and prefer to control the other 99% instead?

  47. The students have essentially brought this upon themselves.

    No, by your own example one percent of the students apparently brought it upon the other 99 percent. So take it out on the one percent who misbehave, not the 99 percent who don’t.

  48. That danged 1%. Crucifixion is too good for them.

  49. I’m all about putting age limits on the attendees. Like I needed any more competition in getting a date for prom than having to compete with the cool college kids. (who in hindsight, weren’t that cool if they were still going to prom at age 21, but 17 year old girls didn’t know that.)

    Like Mr. Nice Guy said, the background checks I can understand if they’re looking for rapists and murderers. Performing field sobriety tests on suspicious people is also alright. Stupid as the law might be, they’re breaking it.

    Also, if they’re worried about being sued for picking out minorities to test, have a uniformed officer do it. The school can’t be sued then, because they weren’t the ones picking out the students. Its a law enforcement agency’s job not to discriminate and they have to be careful about it everyday in their jobs.

    Basically, if I’m not breaking the law in an obvious way and not making a problem for anyone else, I should not have to endure any invasions of my privacy. That’s basically the tenants of libertarianism, right?

  50. So what’s the DY prom theme?

    The Gulag Archipelago?

  51. Prom? Who cares about that? When’s the next edition of “Preacher” coming out?

  52. “So what’s the DY prom theme?

    The Gulag Archipelago?

    Comment by: Stephen Macklin at May 10, 2006 08:53 PM”

    George Bush: either with or against.

  53. Anything that hastens the death of the prom is fine with me.

    Haha, someone couldn’t find a date 🙂

    OK, maybe I was excessively lucky, because I managed to go to prom at my boyfriend’s high school, not my nightmare of a security-obsessed yuppie high school.

    Anyway, a lot of these restrictions seem to reflect the “OMG an outsider!” attitude at high school dances, because folks whose lives are so completely wrapped up in the high school can’t imagine dating outside that little, tiny world. And that is dumb.

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