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Eagle Point dance restriction steps on toes

Guests of Eagle Point High School students who are not enrolled in a high school won't be allowed to attend the school's homecoming dance Saturday because of a new policy that may be the most restrictive among Jackson County high schools.

The policy bars even Eagle Point alumni from attending the dance.

"There are middle school dances throughout the Rogue Valley, and high school students are not allowed at middle school dances," said Principal Allen Barber. "It did not seem appropriate to have adults that were not in high school attending high school dances."

Barber said he has received at least one complaint from a student and a parent.

Callie Bewley, a senior, said many seniors plan to boycott the dance if the policy isn't overturned.

Bewley said she has collected 170 signatures calling for the policy change to be reversed.

"I've been dating the same guy for two years," Eewley said. "He went to every dance with me for the past two years. He is one year older than me and graduated last year. All of a sudden the policy changed."

"It's kind of messing up my senior year," she said.

Senior Jessica Ferro said she's not attending the dance because the new policy will bar her boyfriend.

"My boyfriend broke up a fight between two Eagle Point students at prom last year," Ferro said.

"From my knowledge, the policy wasn't changed for any particular reason, which I thought was absurd."

Parent Tracy Morgan said because of the new rule, her 17-year-old son, Cody Morris, can't bring his girlfriend, who graduated from Eagle Point in June, to the dance.

"I think the kids are being punished for a what-if scenario," Morgan said. Here we have 14-year-olds going to school with 18-year-olds, so the idea of banning 19-year-olds from dancing with 18-year-olds seems lame."

The change makes Eagle Point the only public high school in the area that bans non-high school students. Other area high schools allow up to 20-year-olds and even 21-year-olds to attend dances.

Previously, Eagle Point had a "reference checking" policy in which people as old as 20 were allowed to attend dances if they could provide references and were found to be well behaved.

"It was time-consuming, but we simply didn't have many requests," Barber said.

No particular incident prompted the change, Barber said.

"We simply want to provide the safest atmosphere possible for our students," he said. "Our alumni are always welcome at our athletic events, and extra-curricular events, but we host dances at Eagle Point High School for our students."

Students currently enrolled in other high schools may attend dances as long as they are in good standing with their school, and they have an approved guest pass.

As of Tuesday, three guest passes had been approved, and two more requests were pending, Barber said.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.