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NEWS: Education

Cleveland Girl Heartbroken Over School Letter Saying She Can't Attend Prom

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Sammie was born with a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on her body. She's had 11 surgeries since July 2012. Sammie was born with a rare genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on her body. She's had 11 surgeries since July 2012.
Cleveland High School sent Sammie a letter stating that since she's homebound, she won't be allowed to attend her senior prom. Cleveland High School sent Sammie a letter stating that since she's homebound, she won't be allowed to attend her senior prom.
Sammie's mother said that there's nothing in the school handbook that says a medically homebound student can't attend prom. Sammie's mother said that there's nothing in the school handbook that says a medically homebound student can't attend prom.
The superintendent said the school will revisit and revise its former ruling for Sammie and the future. The superintendent said the school will revisit and revise its former ruling for Sammie and the future.
CLEVELAND, Oklahoma -

A Green Country mother is outraged after her daughter was told she couldn't attend prom because she's home sick with a genetic disorder.

Cleveland High School said it is the district's "practice" to not allow homebound students to go to school functions.

Kimberly Johnson feels her daughter is being punished for a sickness she can't control.

Sammie Brown has undergone 11 surgeries since July 2012, Johnson said.

Sammie was born with a rare genetic disorder, called neurofibromatosis, that causes tumors to grow on her body.

Right now, the tumors are targeting her right arm.

"The new surgeon that she has now looked at her arm, and as soon as he looked at it, he told us we're going to have to do emergency surgery," Johnson said.

After surgery, her arm didn't heal properly, and under doctor's orders, Johnson said Sammie was placed on homebound learning. When a chronically ill student is placed on homebound learning in Oklahoma, teachers meet with them at prearranged times in their homes so the students don't fall behind.

Johnson said the school recently sent home a letter about the school's April 20 prom, which ruined her senior daughter's dreams of going to the special dance.

"It was handwritten at the bottom of the letter that if you're on homebound, you can't attend prom," Johnson said.

Johnson said she immediately went to the school handbook to see if this is a policy.

"There's nothing in there about it," Johnson said.

So she called high school principal Alan Baker.

"He said it's just common sense that if a student is on homebound, they won't be able to attend any type of school events, school functions," Johnson said.

Superintendent of Cleveland Public Schools John Weaver denied a request for an interview, but he said a situation like this has never been brought to the district's attention.

He said, until now, it always made sense for a homebound student not to attend school activities, but after reviewing Sammie's case, the district has decided to come up with a new practice.

Weaver said if the doctor has given Sammie permission to go to prom, then the school will not get in her way.

For Sammie, it isn't enough.

Sammie: "It's unfair."

Reporter: "Would you go now if you had a choice?"

When asked, Sammie shook her head "no" and cried.

Even though the incident has brought her daughter to tears, Johnson said if it means adding a new school policy to the handbook, then it was worth it in the end.

"I don't want another parent or another student to go through the heartache of what we've [gone] through," she said.

Sammie has decided to not go to Cleveland's prom.

Instead, a local DJ plans to throw a separate prom on another date specifically for Sammie and any student who wants to attend.

Click here to see a Facebook page dedicated to Sammie's heath updates.

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