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High School Senior’s Prom Date Denied Access to Dance Due to Guest Policy at Marian Catholic

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FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A mother in Carbon County is venting her frustration about her son's prom.

Eva Zakzewski says her son, who has developmental disabilities, is not being allowed to bring his date because she is still in middle school.

Speaking to Newswatch 16 at her home near Lehighton, Zakzewski says she's heartbroken for her son.

In his senior year at Marian Catholic High School, 17-year-old Tyler and his 14-year-old date planned for months to attend his first prom.

“Pre-plan for prom way in advance, she bought a dress. We have a tuxedo. Tickets were paid for. Everything was arranged,” said Eva.

But then, Eva says, on April 27, two weeks before the May 11 prom night, students were told about age requirements for those bringing outside guests. It's a policy Tyler and his mom didn't know about.

The problem is Tyler's guest is a childhood friend from New Jersey who would not be allowed to go.

“She is in middle school. She's 14 years old,” said Eva. “And he was told he could not bring her two weeks ago because she's not in high school, though there are 14 year olds in high school.”

Still, Eva asked the school to make an exception due to the late notice of that policy.

“I was still hopeful, definitely. If anything could change, it would make my day, but the more and more it got farther,” said Tyler.

Marian Catholic posted a response to the situation on its Facebook page:

Good Afternoon,
Regarding the Marian Catholic prom posts and inquiries, all senior students have been invited to attend their senior prom, and administration and staff sincerely hopes that they take advantage of attending this memorable event.
Students are permitted to invite guests; however, our policy is that guests must be at least in high school, and no more than 20 years of age. Every student received this information in April. All six Allentown Diocesan high schools (grades 9-12) adhere to the same policy for guests.
A recent request for a seventh grade student to accompany a senior to Marian’s prom has been denied, due to the fact that the guest does not meet the minimum grade requirement.
While the seventh grade guest was denied, the senior has always been and is still invited to participate in his senior prom. Marian Catholic continues to develop high school students spiritually, morally, academically, and socially. Thank you for understanding our decision.

Tyler's mom says she contacted the Diocese of Allentown, which said it was standing by this policy.

However, since the notice of guest restrictions was sent out so close to the date of the prom, it would allow the principal to have the final say on the issue.

“[The principal] called my husband at 4 o'clock yesterday and said no, that she would not allow my son to take an age-appropriate date to the prom,” said Eva.

Tyler says his friend was the only person he wanted to take to prom. He has developmental disabilities and feels comfortable with the girl he's known all his life.

“As everyone else probably had a date at the time or anything, she was probably one of the closest friends that I knew. She was there all the time. I knew her personally. Her family was great to me,” said Tyler.

Eva says the school offered refunds, but she hasn't accepted in hopes the principal will reconsider.


  • Jack Irvin

    So much for catholics being welcoming to all, I guess 14 years old is only ok for priests. And they wonder why they lose their congregations

  • Kenny Seaboldt

    Unless the prom date is acting as a personal caretaker then she shouldn’t be able to attend. I’ve worked with teens on cruise ships. Developmentally, 14 year old kids are not mature enough to hang out with 18 year old adults. Marian Catholic policy allows adults to age 20 into the dance. If I were a parent, I wouldn’t feel comfortable sending my 14 year old. Princess Cruises has a very strict 13-17 year old policy. Royal Caribbean has a 12-13 year old group and 14-17 year old group. Both cruise lines know a thing or three about parties. If I were Marion Catholic, I’d consider capping the age limit at 18.

    On another note, we want kids with disabilities to lead normal lives and be independent. Life has rules. Following the rules is part of life.

  • shinky43

    Remember Cardinal Brennan? If they even had a prom there, I bet it was an odd bunch of faces and questionable ages. Weird place but if Cardinal Brennan reopens for prom, not only might they let this special boy in with the 7th grader but he’d have a good shot at prom king. I say go for it. Reopen Cardinal Brennan and let freedom ring. God bless Schuylkill County 4 life.

    • skookamania

      proms are overrated. Id rather take my date dressed high school sports gear to get a cheesesamitch in downtown pottsville, watch a movie at the skook mall pearl theatre then daze at the stars over gilberton over a nice bud ice.

  • Rusty Knyffe

    It is what it is. Ten years from now, this prom will be just a memory and both of these kids will have gone their separate ways. Life is full of disappointments. Get accustomed to it or you’ll need a cry closet to navigate through life.

    • skookamania

      Not in the skookie area, high school just gets started at 18 by 40 some graduate. just read the FB posts of these people who settled down here. its like they are stuck in time. anyone know where i could get a good cheesesamy or a fire whistle ringtone around here?

  • Siobhra Aradia

    Take them to court. Ask the judge for an emergency injunction. You can’t change a contract after the deal was final. And offering a refund does not excuse the Diocese from it’s contractual obligations.

  • burtfan16

    First of all you’re talking about the Diocese of Allentown, no way they’re going to change their minds and make an exception. Second of all, I can understand the grade restriction but this policy should be made clear in a timely fashion maybe through a notice sent to the parents.

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