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Punished for Reading'? Florida Student Says She Was Banned From Homecoming for Overdue Library Book


"It's ridiculous."

​Photo Credit: WFTX-TV

A Florida high school freshman has reportedly missed her first homecoming dance because of an overdue library book.

A member of the accelerated reading program, Dominique Stearns says she checked out a murder mystery two weeks ago with her other books, and simply forgot to return it.  When she went to buy her homecoming ticket and was told she was ineligible because of it, Stearns remarked with a laugh: "I thought she was lying."

​Photo Credit: WFTX-TV

WFTX-TV has more:

Dominique's mother went to the high school to complain. She says the principal, Tracy Perkins, was unwilling to work with her.

"She did not care one bit," said Dominique's Mom, Danielle Olmstead. "She asked me what grade she's in, I said freshman; she said 'Oh there's always next year.'"


She offered to bring the book back that day but the school wouldn't budge.

"She's not being punished because she got into a fight or anything like that," said Olmstead. "She's getting punished because she had an overdue library book for reading. It's ridiculous." [Emphasis added]

​Photo Credit: WFTX-TV

What makes it worse is that Stearns and her mother had already spent hours shopping for the "perfect" dress, going to between ten and twelve different stores before choosing their favorite.

Holding up the white and gold dress they eventually decided on, Stearns explained: "[I was looking forward to] getting dressed up really pretty and taking pretty pictures."

Though the school says it cannot comment on issues involving students by law, Lee County School District spokesman Joe Donzelli remarked: "...any assertion that a student would be punished for wanting to read is completely false and totally inappropriate."

However, WFTX-TV relates, a summer newsletter did inform parents that "students must have a zero balance for all fees and fines to participate in some special extracurricular activities or privileges," and they allegedly received no other explanation.

"They need to worry about more serious things," Stearns concluded.

Here is an interview with the family, via WFTX-TV:

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