Autistic student leaves prom in tears after sister denied entry
CLARKSVILLE — Prom was supposed to be a special night for Jayce Wisenhunt, a special-needs student at Montgomery Central High School. But instead of dancing and laughter, he fled in tears after his date — his 24-year-old sister, Jessica Helling — was turned away Saturday night.
Now his father is speaking out, saying Montgomery Central humiliated his child, who has been bullied his whole life, and urging others to spread the word on social media.
"To be humiliated like he was ... is totally unacceptable," Tone Wisenhunt wrote on Facebook. "So please, everyone that is my friend, if you're a true friend, and love my son, spread the word of what Montgomery Central High School did to my little boy."
But Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools spokeswoman Elise Shelton said no one meant to hurt Jayce's feelings or make him feel singled out. Students were given a list of rules ahead of time and were told they could not bring any guest over age 20. That age limit had been 21 in the past.
Students also were required to submit names of their dates if they were not students at the school by May 4, and those between 18 and 20 would have to pass a background check by the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, which provides school resource officers.
In Jayce's case, that wasn't done, and he didn't even sign up to attend, Shelton said.
"We didn't have information that this particular student was even attending prom because they didn't RSVP," she said.
She said a teacher texted a parent the Tuesday before prom to ask if he would be going but did not receive a yes or no answer. Instead Jayce showed up with his older sister, and Principal Christy Houston said he could stay but the sister would have to leave.
"I'm sorry this has taken on such a negative tone for the school and principal," Shelton said. "Mrs. Houston is a caring administrator who does so much for all the students. She did invite the student and his sister to have their photo taken since they had both dressed up. And she felt that the sister was OK when she explained that students could not bring guests over 20 years old, and the student's classmates and teachers would be there to provide him with any support."
She said the principal didn't see anyone in tears, and if she had, she would have talked to them more.
Jayce has autism and takes part in an off-campus job training program to help students transition to work, said family friend Michelle Gordon.
May 10, 2016, USA Today