Lucia Mar bars teen with brain tumor from going to prom
May 10, 2016
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A high school senior who is battling a brain tumor and recovering from a broken hip managed to score a date, as well as a black tuxedo with a pink tie, for the Arroyo Grande High School prom. Then, about 48 hours prior to the big event, the Lucia Mar school district passed along a message that the wheelchair-bound student was not welcome at the prom.
Jared Springer, 18, could not go to prom because he had been absent from school for an extended period following a recent accident in which he fell out of his wheelchair and broke his hip. His absence from school disqualified him from attending school events, the disabled student’s father, Frank Springer, said in a Facebook post.
Lucia Mar’s director of student services informed Frank Springer of the rule during a phone call late in the day on Thursday. The Arroyo Grande prom took place Saturday night.
During the phone conversation, the district administrator said Jared Springer could only go to prom if he received clearance to attend school from a doctor and his family met with district officials to discuss logistics. That gave the Springer family one day to jump through impossible hoops, Frank Springer said in the Facebook post.
“As a parent I understand there has to be policies,” Springer wrote. “I understand the need for rules. I just don’t understand why there is no compassion or importance given to kids and families that are suffering.”
In Oct. 2014, Jared Springer suffered a stroke and brain hemorrhage, causing him to spend 20 days in a coma and five months in the ICU. He was diagnosed with a pilocytic astrocytoma brain tumor.
This year, Jared Springer returned to school for his senior year at Arroyo Grande High. About three weeks ago, he fell out of his wheel chair and broke his right hip, which required emergency surgery.
Following a 10-day rehab, doctors released the Arroyo Grande senior but instructed him not to go to school for six weeks. The doctors said it would be too painful for him to bounce around campus in the wheelchair.
During Jared Springer’s last week in rehab, all he would talk about was going to prom, his father said. His nurses cleared him to go to prom, and he was very excited about going.
But on Wednesday, one of Jared Springer’s support teachers called Frank Springer and said Jared would not be able to attend prom. Frank Springer did not receive an explanation from the district until late in the following day.
Frank Springer also said he offered to go to the prom with his son. The district’s student services director said Frank Springer could not accompany his son because he did not have a background check and a tuberculosis test. Also, the district does not let parents go to many school functions, the Lucia Mar administrator reportedly said.
On Saturday night, Jared Springer went with his date to dinner to the Madonna Inn. Their classmates were attending prom at a location down the street.
Jared Springer returned home a little mad and upset. He had been looking forward to seeing his friends, listening to music and finally having a little fun at prom, his father wrote.
The Lucia Mar District released the following statement Monday:
“In the Lucia Mar Unified School District, we believe that our work is about students and maximizing their academic and extracurricular opportunities. It saddens me to know that with improved communication one of our students may have been able to attend an event that is special for many high school seniors. We have reached out to the parents to meet and discuss this situation in person and are awaiting their availability.
“At the same time, student safety is a top priority in our District. In order to protect all our students and staff, we have specific rules about who is allowed to participate in school-sponsored events. We acknowledge that there may be ways to work within guidelines to expand opportunities for our students.
“In our decision making regarding eligibility to participate in extracurricular events Lucia Mar USD complies with all medical restrictions outlined by individual health care providers to ensure the health and safety of each child is taken into account. We make the best decisions we can, at the time, based on the information we receive from doctors.
“While this prom is now in the past, many special senior activities remain ahead. It is our intent to improve our two-way communication with the family regarding these events. We will work with the student and parents to attempt to ensure participation, whenever possible, provided the necessary medical releases are in place. It is also our intent to work with the family, apologize, learn from any mistakes, and improve our training and processes for all of our students.”