Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, May 21, 2010

What Was The Final Lesson Taught?

There is a time to adhere to policies, and a time to use them merely as a guide. When a new situation arises that one never anticipated, and is something that would do no harm, then a closer look is in order.

In 2007 a Tantasqua High School survived a car accident, and eventually returned to the school as a student. As a result of the accident she now has reduced cognitive abilities as a result of the brain damage acquired at the time of the accident.

At a brain injury survivors meeting, the Tantasqua student met a man, nine years older than her, and have had a relationship ever since. They planned to attend the girls high school prom together. The young man is older than 21 year old age limit as outlined in a Tantasqua High School policy outlining who can attend school dances. He is too old to attend the prom with the young lady according to policy.

The young lady who is 19 years old will miss a landmark social event in her life because of a policy. A policy originally written with good intent, and for reasons far removed from the reason that the two young people had for attending the prom: to be together, and to share a special time like every other student. Unfortunately, a little bit of head trauma got in the way, and delayed both of their celebrations.

Apparently, when the issue was first brought up to the superintendent Daniel Durgin by the girls dad, the superintendent offered to provide an "aid" to attend the prom with the young lady.

Say what?

The superintendent wanted to supply an aid to accompany the young lady to her high school prom instead of her boyfriend? That idea was unacceptable to the young lady, and her family, and if one thinks about it for just a bit it says way too much about the person suggesting it.

As a result, there has been a lawsuit filed alleging discrimination towards the young lady because of her condition.

The bottom line is that we place individuals in positions of responsibility, and in doing so we hope that they will use the rules to guide them, and their heart to adjust them as needed. The superintendent is very familiar with the young ladies story, and denying her the opportunity to attend her prom with the person of her choice was cold, and avoidable.

The lawsuit will advance, and both sides will explain to the court their stories, but the suit, the court, and the explanations will not bring back the moments the girl and her date lost forever.

Being the one in charge, the top dog, the "buck stops here" person has many responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to decide which is better, and which is best regarding many issues, and adjusting ones stance accordingly. This time it was not done well.

In fact, it seems it was not done at all.

To read the entire article, click here.


  1. Unfortunately, the superintendent made a poor choice this time. Eventually, it will will cost a heavy price in dollars, and conscience.

  2. 28 years of age is 8 years too old to attend a high school prom. He should not have been allowed to go. No one prevented the 19 year old student from attending the prom except her family. Not all students go with dates many go in groups of friends so this issue is being blown out of proportion. You failed to mention that the girl’s family got a hotel room for the 19 year old teenager and 28 year old man as stated by them in a local newspaper. She could have gone to the prom but without the 28 year old man as a date.

  3. Don't Tell Me About Brain InjuriesSunday, May 23, 2010

    I want to make this very clear, age has nothing to do with anything once a brain injury has occurred that involves cognition. Since both were in the same brain injury group all rules are out the window and each case MUST be handled on an individual basis. And, yes, the writer did mention the article with the rest of the information about the father renting the limo, etc., The link is at the bottom of the article.

  4. Yes, and if the 28 year old brought friends back to his hotel room for a post prom party would everyone still think that the superintendent made a poor decision? I'm not saying that he would have, but without knowing what circumstances could have prevailed the superintendant had no choice but to stick to the rules and play it safe. After all, keeping all students safe is one of the jobs of administration. I'm quite sure is was a difficult decision but rules are rules. The special night that the couple created was a great idea and I hope they enjoyed themselves.

  5. What part of reduced cognition do you not understand?

    Some students have hotel rooms already, a culture around for years, and years, but you subscribe to a special night" for "special kids", right?

    The superintendent had the ability to make a good decision, the superintendent didi not. As a result, a young lady was not allowed to bring here significant other to the dance.


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