* Update 17 May 2009:It isn’t clear whether Manheim Township senior was allowed to attend his senior prom. As of Friday, Jordan Duncan was still fighting to attend the school’s social event of the year.
Marcy Brody, the Manheim Township Public relations personnel said she “can neither confirm nor deny that Jordan Duncan is attending prom.”
Brody or any other district official would not comment on the controversy.
Also, the Manheim township senior has not responded to several attempts to contact him about his status for attending his school’s prom. *
Duncan was suspended by the administration because of a parody he created about the new head principal, Deborah Mitchell, and her views on dancing at prom and homecoming.
He may have intended the video to poke fun at rumors about rules on dancing at prom that were flying around the high school, but the administration wasn’t laughing.
“I just made it as a joke, as a funny video that I could share with my friends,” Duncan said in a statement on a website he created after the incident. “And I posted it on Youtube because it is the easiest and fastest way for all my friends to see it.”
Suspended from school for nine days and barred from prom or any other school-related activities on or off campus., Duncan’s statement said it was because he was in “Violation of the Manheim Township School District Acceptable Use of Technology Policy.”
He allegedly made the video on school-district owned equipment in the school’s video lab.
According to Duncan’s statement posted on the www.freejordanduncan.com website, his first intentions with the raw video were to clear up a few school rumors regarding the possible cancellation of prom and the dancing policies.
Duncan released this statement on the website. “When I first started working on the project, my goal was to create a video to be aired on Blue Streak News (school news channel) that would effectively dispel all of the rumors about the dancing policy and prom at our high school.”
The Manheim Township prom was held Saturday, May 15th,
“I was given the most severe punishment possible without a mandatory discipline hearing by the school board,” Duncan said via the website statement. “The administration wanted to give me the most severe possible consequence while attempting to remain under the radar of the school board.”
An attorney for the ACLU, Mary Catherine Roper told the Intelligencer Journal/New Era Newspaper, “I find it very hard to believe that this is a standard punishment for somebody making unauthorized use of school equipment.”
A student at Penn Manor, a sophomore, Grace Gunde, said she feels Duncan deserves the punishment, “Kind of, because it was inappropriate, but at the same time, he did it to be funny and not personally attack the principal.”
Austin Richwine from Penn Manor disagreed. “He doesn’t deserve to be suspended for nine days because it’s not like he showed the funny video in school. He released it outside of school.”
Penn Manor Principal Phil Gale said “The thing this incident does is it demonstrates the concerns that all educators and people have when or how technology is used. Because of the things that can be done whether its just taking little clips or videos on cell phones, we do not know what happens with it after it’s recorded.”
Part of Duncan’s released statement on his website included an apology. “It was intended as a joke, and I regret that she took offense to an amusing attempt to lighten the entire dancing policy controversy. For that, I am truly sorry.”
By Dana Poetzl and Kayla Pagan