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Left out at prom?


Complaint charges Tantasqua with civil rights violation



JustineandJeff
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Justine Aragona, 19, and her boyfriend Jeff Marquis, 28, enjoyed a night out that included dinner and dancing and concluded with a hotel stay despite not participating in Tantasqua Regional High School’s junior/senior prom on Friday, May 7. Courtesy photo. (click for larger version)
May 10, 2010
A complaint has been filed through the U.S. Department of Education, claiming the Tantasqua Regional School Committee, High School Principal Michael Lucas and district Superintendent Daniel G. Durgin have infringed on a student's civil rights.

The complaint was lodged on Saturday, May 9 through the Department of Education's Federal Office of Civil Rights by district parent Dan Pellegrini stemming from what he perceived as the unfair handling of a prom-related issue in the days leading up to the school's annual formal.

Pellegrini's stepdaughter Justine Aragona was severely injured in a near-fatal car accident in 2007, leaving her with reduced cognitive abilities as a result of permanent brain damage.

In the year following Aragona's accident, the now-19-year-old met Jeff Marquis in a head trauma survivors support group and the two began dating.

Nine years her senior, Marquis was denied admittance to the Tantasqua junior/senior prom because of a district policy that prohibits anyone 21-years or older from attending school dances.

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News with complete coverage of community news.

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