A high school dance held at a roller rink has been deemed “discriminatory” by the superintendent of a Michigan district, who said only students at predominantly white schools were invited.
The dance held on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Tarry Hall Roller Skating Rink in Grandville was billed as an “exclusive event,” as only current students at 11 schools were invited.
Data from the National Center for Education shows those 11 schools have enrollments of at least 73% white students. The average of the schools is 85% white.
“It became glaringly apparent that certain schools were included, and others were left out,” Erin Albanese, whose daughter attends nearby Wyoming High School, told WZZM. “And there seems to be a difference in the diversity levels of those schools.”
Diverse high schools in the area were not included, according to Wyoming Public Schools’ Superintendent Craig Hoekstra.
“Due to the seemingly discriminatory nature of this party, a response and explanation is needed from Tarry Hall in regard to who was invited and excluded from the event,” Hoekstra said in a statement on Sunday, Sept. 25.
Wyoming High School, which is 4 miles from the roller rink, is 28% white and 72% non-white, according to National Center for Education statistics. Additional nearby schools mentioned by Hoekstra also appear to be more diverse than the schools that were invited.
Owners of the roller rink said after the dance that “school demographics” did not play a factor in who was invited. Students at all nearby schools were unable to be invited “due to capacity restrictions,” owners added.
“We are a privately owned business who put on a private event for our own high school kids, their friends, and the area schools who have continued to support our rink through these challenging times,” Tarry Hall Roller Skating Rink said.
However, Hoekstra said Wyoming Public Schools has an existing relationship with the roller rink and “has spent resources” at parties and events there.
“Our kids deserve better,” the superintendent said.
The business has been flooded with negative reviews in the days since the dance.
The roller rink has filtered out comments on its Facebook page, but many parents have sounded off about the event.
“My junior, she’s like, ‘This sounds like a segregated event to me. What year are we living in?’” Abby Cuevas, whose daughter attends Wyoming High School, told WOOD-TV.
“I know and have seen these kids,” Tricia Strotdbeck told WZZM. “They’re not just ‘kids from down the street,’ we’re talking about real people’s feelings.”