A high school principal has been scolded over a rooftop prom stunt involving her daughter and a fire department ladder truck, Local 2 Investigates reported Tuesday.
Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District leaders said they learned about the event at Cypress Falls High School on Huffmeister after the fact, but a district spokesperson said the principal has been told that future prom events should not jeopardize student safety.
Photos posted on Facebook show a Cy-Fair Volunteer Fire Department ladder truck being used to raise the principal's daughter to the roof of the high school, where a classmate was already waiting to ask her to prom.
"I think it's just a waste of taxpayers' money and time," said Aamund Bouvia, who lives nearby.
Had there been an actual fire in his neighborhood, he said the fire trucks and firefighters could have been delayed and the participants in the school event could have been hurt.
"Anything could have happened. Everybody makes mistakes. Then what would we say? Oops, I'm sorry? It's just not right," he said.
The online photos show several firefighters and two fire trucks involved in the event.
In one photo, firefighters are pictured as the ladder and snorkel reached the school rooftop, and the couple then exchanged a hug.
The couple then posed for pictures near the other fire truck, and Cypress Falls High School Principal Becky Denton posed with her daughter in another picture.
Denton declined to answer questions about her decision.
The event was staged during a scheduled fire drill at the school where the entire student body came outside to watch the action.
Bouvia said, "She's sending a message to all of the children that were standing out there that it's OK to bend the rules, break the rules for what you want to do."
Cy-Fair Fire Chief Joe Davis admitted, "It probably does look rather odd," but he said his fire crews were just doing what the principal asked of them.
He said students can benefit from the learning experience of seeing a huge fire ladder truck outside the school during a fire drill.
The chief also said no rules were broken by his volunteer fire crews since teens or other civilians are allowed in the snorkel if trained firefighters are supervising.
The school district's spokeswoman, Assistant Superintendent Kelli Durham, declined to answer questions on camera but provided a written statement to Local 2 Investigates.
The complete statement reads:
"Although students like to be creative in the ways that they invite their dates to the prom, Cy-Falls campus administration has been advised to restrict students from any situation that involves possible safety issues."
Durham pointed out that both of the students' parents gave permission for the ladder truck trip to the school's rooftop.
She said administrators did, however, feel that the event was "not appropriate."
Davis said his crews were never out of service for the event, and he said they could have lowered the ladder within five minutes if a real emergency required their attention.
One nearby resident, Sonya Thelen, said she had no problem with that since she figured the fire crews knew their capabilities and their jobs.
But as fire departments and school districts struggle with layoffs, Bouvia said it was a bad choice.
"Everybody's in trouble, but she has the time to waste taxpayers' dollars on something like this? I just don't think she made the right decision," he said.
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