Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Prom dates must pass inspection at Hillsborough schools

TAMPA — It's prom season. Got your dress, tickets, corsage? Got your date's criminal background check?

If not, you may wind up going solo.

Most students in Hillsborough County are required to fill out a form with their date's name, address and phone number when purchasing a ticket to the big bash, if the date does not attend their school.

Some schools have gone further, requesting photocopies of student IDs, drivers' licenses and — in one case — the date's Social Security number.

The practice is universal in Hillsborough, said school district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe, although she is unsure of how long the schools have been enforcing it.

"We have to know who's coming to these things," Cobbe said. "Our first priority is the safety of all our students."

Freedom High School, which holds its prom tonight, required students to provide the date's Social Security number along with other identifying information when tickets were sold.

"We just started with the Social Security numbers this year," said assistant principal Kelly King. "… We basically ask for them so that we have them in the event we need them later."

The school checks guests for felonies and outstanding warrants in Hillsborough County, although the Social Security numbers are not a part of that research, King said.

Michele Innocenti, the parent of a Freedom freshman, said she doesn't mind the practice as long as the school informs parents well in advance and does not perform FBI-style background checks.

"In these days and times, I think it's necessary," she said. "Sometimes I want to do it for the teachers."

If the date attends another Hillsborough County school, King said, officials can also check to see if that student has any discipline issues there.

"It's all about protecting our students at Freedom and their guests," King said. "It's not about anything else."

Principal David Brown of Leto High School agrees.

He requires that along with the application, the student bring a photocopy of a driver's license or ID card for dates who don't attend Leto. At Leto, they're not concerned only about felonies.

"We have an age limit set at 22 for all nonstudents attending the prom," he said. "It's for safety, and it's also to make sure everyone is comfortable because nobody wants to see a 30-year-old guy showing up, even if he is someone's date."

Brown's age rule does have exceptions, such as relatives home on leave from the military.

But at Leto's prom May 10, anyone who isn't on the list will not get through the door.

"You can't decide at the last minute to switch your date — even though we know that these things happen sometimes — because that person will not be admitted, and we don't sell tickets at the door," Brown said.

Similar restrictions hold for the Sickles High School homecoming dance, which every student can attend with a guest. But for prom, it's a little more streamlined.

Teacher Mindy Swary, the senior class adviser at Sickles, said she collected the names and contact information for the outside students attending the prom and will check IDs against a list at the door.

A representative from Gaither High, which just started requiring ID forms last year, said the prom March 29 went off without a hitch.

"The students had at least a month to turn the form in," said Sharon Rodd of student affairs. "I don't recall hearing of any problems at the event."

The school also got no complaints from Gaither senior Phillip Ackart, who brought a church friend from Sickles to the homecoming dance in the fall.

"She had to fill out a form and both our parents had to sign it," he said. "It was a bit of a hassle, but I didn't mind it."

Ackart took a classmate to the prom. He doesn't know if the security policy played a part but, he said, "hardly anyone brought someone who didn't go there."

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 269-5313 or rmitchell@sptimes.com.

Prom dates must pass inspection at Hillsborough schools 05/01/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 5, 2008 2:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Search under way for missing sailors; Navy chief orders inquiry

    Military

    SINGAPORE — The U.S. Navy ordered a broad investigation Monday into the performance and readiness of the Pacific-based 7th Fleet after the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Southeast Asian waters, leaving 10 U.S. sailors missing and others injured.

    Damage is visible as the USS John S. McCain steers toward Singapore’s naval base on Monday.
  2. Told not to look, Donald Trump looks at the solar eclipse

    National

    Of course he looked.

    Monday's solar eclipse — life-giving, eye-threatening, ostensibly apolitical — summoned the nation's First Viewer to the Truman Balcony of the White House around 2:38 p.m. Eastern time.

    The executive metaphor came quickly.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump view the solar eclipse from the Truman balcony of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 21, 2017. [Al Drago | New York Times]
  3. Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Secret Service said Monday that it has enough money to cover the cost of protecting President Donald Trump and his family through the end of September, but after that the agency will hit a federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime unless Congress intervenes.

    Secret service agents walk with President Donald Trump after a ceremony to welcome the 2016 NCAA Football National Champions the Clemson Tigers on the South Lawn of the White House on June 12, 2017. [Olivier Douliery | Sipa USA via TNS]
  4. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan

    War

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]
  5. Trial begins for man accused of threatening to kill Tampa federal judge

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Jason Jerome Springer was in jail awaiting trial on a firearms charge when he heard inmates talking about a case that had made the news.

    His attorney said Jason Jerome Springer, 39, just talked, and there was “no true threat.”