Shawna Steeves said PTO officials banned her from being her daughter’s date at a father-daughter dance. Steeves has an 8-year-old named Meghan, but couldn’t believe that she was barred from the dance. The president of the PTO stuck a “no moms allowed” policy for the Feb. 6 dance at Southwest Elementary School in Lawson, Missouri.
“One option they gave was that they [the PTO] would find a male substitute to take her, which was out of the question,” Steeves told ABC News. “She told me that she didn’t want to make kids feel like outcasts. But where did my daughter fit in all of this? They didn’t even offer me a chaperone position.”
Steeves said that she initially thought she could go to the dance after the school principal gave her the OK to accompany her daughter.
“She was really excited,” Steeves said. “She said, ‘Mommy, I want you to take me.’ I thought, ‘OK, cool,’ but the flyer said, ‘No moms allowed,’ and her dad is not in her life.”
“One week later, we bought a dress,” Steeves added. “The next morning, I got a call from the principal, who told me that I wasn’t allowed to attend because of the PTO [Parent Teacher Organization].”
The principal of Southwest Elementary School referred calls to the district superintendent, Roger Schmitz, who said the decision on who could attend the father-daughter dance rested with the PTO because it was running the event.
A community service organization saw coverage of Shawna Steeves’ dispute with the school and offered to organize a separate dance.
“It’s open to all the students and they can bring any adult role model they wish,” said Antonio DeLaCruz, a member of Missouri Widows Sons Masonic Riders Association and organizer of “Meghan’s Dance.”
“Of course, she’s the driving force,” DeLaCruz added, “but there’s other kids in her situation that want to attend school functions like the father-daughter dance and they can’t.”
PTO president Kacey Collier issued a statement to a local TV station.
“Our PTO works very hard at creating events that give ample opportunity for all families to [participate] in throughout the year. Regarding the situation with this event there were several options given to this family and all families so that all Southwest elementary school aged girls are welcome to attend regardless of their family situation. Our goal is to keep this special event authentic. We offer many other events that are family oriented. Examples would be muffins with mom and donuts with dad, the family 5 k walk/run, pancakes with Santa, Trunk or treat and our mother son challenge. We are very proud of our organization and what we do for the students and our community.”
They told Shawna Steeves that any other male figure - including uncles or grandparents - were more than welcome to attend. But Meghan insisted she wants her mother there. The mom was left devastated, having already bought her daughter a black and white dress with a purple sash - Meghan’s favorite color.