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North Texas H.S. Prom Venue Closes With School Deposit

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jennifer Lindgren
Jennifer joined CBS 11 News in September 2013. For her, the move ...
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GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – A prom promise has been broken for seniors at South Garland High School. Their venue closed suddenly, and now, five weeks before the big night, students and staff are left without their money or a place to celebrate.

Park Lane Ranch Events Center was supposed to take care of everything for South Garland High. Details from the food, to the decorations, to the dance floor were all included a contract signed by the class booster club.

Despite the agreement, the venue isn’t just closed for the evening agreed – it’s closed for business.

(Source: CBSDFW.COM)

(Source: CBSDFW.COM)

High school students at South Garland, like most other American high schools, had a vision of what the prom should be like.

“Prom is supposed to be a celebration,” senior Leyli Flores said frankly. “Besides graduation, I think prom is like the main thing we look forward to.”

While disappointment should not be a part of the vocabulary, that’s how class officers are feeling.

Teacher Lisa Davis saw everything change in a flash. “To have it all taken away in one sentence, seemed unreal.”

Davis had the tough job of telling students their prom in now in limbo. “How do you tell them? How do you explain to them that adults are not always what they should be?”

School officials showed CBS 11 News the contract and the bank records. There was a 30-percent deposit, of $4,468.79, paid to Park Lane Ranch on September 25, 2013. School leaders said they toured the venue and talked with staff several times. The students chose Park Lane Ranch themselves, because the price was affordable and it included a lot of options.

Davis said everyone at the school thought things were set for the April 26 event… that is until March 19. It was that Wednesday when Davis got an email from a former manager at the venue, giving her a heads up the business had closed.

The news was devastating not only because prom is a high school ritual, but also because of how hard students at South Garland had worked.  “It [money] all had to be fund-raised. These kids do not have money to pay for prom tickets,” Davis explained. “We had to fund raise for everything. They’ve been raising money since their sophomore year.”

According to school officials, 70-percent of the students who attend South Garland High School are economically disadvantaged. That meant saving up the money to pay for prom, and everything that goes with it, was a big undertaking for the senior class.

(Source: CBSDFW.COM)

(Source: CBSDFW.COM)

CBS 11 stopped by Park Lane Ranch on March 20.  A contractor was there clearing out the event space, and so was the owner. A reporter said, “Their prom is five weeks from now and nobody had said a word to them that this place was even closing.”

Park Lane owner Jeff Swope responded, “We’re embarrassed about several of those things, because we didn’t know the people. We didn’t know how to find them.”

Swope said he recently sold the space, but assured CBS 11 he would return South Garland’s deposit by the end of March. “Our name’s on the door, so we’ll pay it back,” he said.

With just weeks to go, South Garland is now left searching a venue to host their celebration.

“It’s not something you can plan one-week ahead,” senior Allen Capasgordo said frustrated. “You’ll have to plan so many months, and years ahead of time.”

Teachers have been on the phones, trying to find another place with availability at the last minute, but Davis said it’s proving to be very difficult to find the right combination of space and location.

South Garland High School will host a craft sale on Saturday, March 22; from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. South Garland High School is located at 600 Colonel Drive, Garland, Texas 75043.

Proceeds from the event will be used for prom.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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