A schoolgirl has been left devastated after being excluded from her prom despite buying a £500 dress.
Aimee Wilkinson, a pupil at North Durham Academy, was said to have been in tears when she was told she would not be allowed to attend her school prom alongside her fellow Year 11 pupils.
Her grandma, Gail Wilkinson, said the family had become aware of the school’s decision via a voicemail from the school on Monday afternoon, just two days before the event, ChronicleLive reported.
She added that three weeks ago she paid £35 for a ticket for Aimee to go to prom, believing she would be allowed to attend.
And now her granddaughter, 15, will never get to wear her stunning baby blue prom dress, which cost £495, as well as £50 for alterations.
Gail, from West Pelton, said: “We know Aimee was no angel, we’re aware that she’s had issues at school before. She can be a bit mouthy but she’s dead loving and caring and she’d help anybody.
“She had fallen behind at school previously and then she came to live with me and she’s really tried going to school and sticking in in that time and tried hard for her exams.
“I’m not normally one to complain but I just don’t understand why the school would take the money for the ticket three weeks ago and then wait until two days before to let us know.
“They also let the good kids get their ticket for free, but if they’d been ‘naughty’ they had to pay for their ticket.”
Gail said she visited the school on Tuesday afternoon to ask staff why Aimee had been excluded from the prom two days before the event.
She added that she was told by a member of staff that Aimee didn’t meet the criteria in November and March and she will be refunded for the ticket.
Gail claimed that she was told by a staff member at the school on Tuesday that Aimee had been told around six weeks ago that she wasn’t allowed to go to prom.
She added: “Why wouldn’t the school send it in writing if they had said that? You wouldn’t just tell a pupil that. I know if I asked Aimee she would say she hadn’t been told.”
North Durham Academy said Year 11 pupils had been reminded of the criteria pupils must meet to attend prom on a number of occasions throughout the year.
The school’s principal, Mark Gray, said that students had four criteria to meet – attendance to school, attendance to after school revision sessions, effort in lessons, and behaviour – which Aimee had failed to meet.
But Gail explained that as well as her granddaughter being devastated that she has been excluded from prom, she has also been left almost £1,000 out of pocket as she will be unable to return the dress and has already paid for additional costs.
These include hair, make-up, nails, and tanning treatments, as well as shoes, jewellery, a bag and custom-made decorations for Aimee’s mum’s car, which Aimee and her friend were planning to arrive to prom in.
Gail, 57, added: “I’ve got health issues but I’ve been working harder to get her the dress and everything she needed so she could go to the prom. Now I’ve got a dress hanging up in the house worth £500 which is no good whatsoever.”
In an attempt to get answers and ask the school to reconsider the decision, Aimee’s mum and grandad paid another visit to the school on Wednesday to meet with Mr Gray.
He explained that Aimee did not meet the criteria and would not be allowed to attend the prom.
Mr Gray said: “I have just met with Aimee’s mum and grandparent regarding the decision to not allow Aimee to go to Prom this year and have explained to them the reasons for the decision.
“The grandparent acknowledged the reasons and said he understood them but simply wanted to ask if I would re-consider.
“I explained that Aimee was not able to attend Prom this year as she had not met any of the criteria shared with all Y11 students at the beginning of the year.
“I then explained that the students had been reminded of the criteria on a number of occasions throughout the year in assembly and through conversations with members of staff.
“And that I had checked attendance at assemblies to ensure that Aimee had been present and therefore will have received the information.
“I also explained that those students who had met all of the criteria were having their ticket paid for, which I feel is a lovely gesture to recognise the many students who have got it right throughout their time in Y11.
“Although mum and grandparent were not happy with the outcome, I feel strongly that they were satisfied that I had investigated Aimee’s case thoroughly before making, what was a very tough decision.”