Coffee County Mom Pushes For Virtual Learners To Attend Homecoming Dance

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

A Middle Tennessee mom believes her freshman daughter is being treated unfairly because, as a virtual student, she is not being allowed to attend her high school’s homecoming dance.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Sara Simmons enrolled her daughter in Coffee County’s virtual academy just two weeks ago. Now she is saying she might not have made that decision if she had completely understood all of the restrictions that went along with being a virtual student.

Simmons says she did not realize there were limitations on attending school functions when she switched her daughter, and she wants to know why her daughter is not being allowed to participate with her peers.

“She’s been in this Coffee County system since she was four years old, and she’s been raised with these same kids that are going to school every day and getting to enjoy these milestones that they’re denying my daughter and twenty something other kids,” Simmons said.

While some would say that the school is not obligated to allow the student to participate if they are choosing to learn virtually, Simmons disagrees.

“I can understand where they are coming from, but people choose to keep their children at home for different reasons,” Simmons argues.

The school district is hosting an outdoor homecoming dance on October 1. Simmons says her reasons for keeping her daughter at home should not be held against her and should not be grounds for denying her access to the dance.

Dr. Charles Lawson, director of Coffee County Schools, says that one of the reasons is added protection against COVID-19.

“Coffee County Central High School and Coffee County Raider Academy are combining homecoming activities. They’re trying to take as many COVID mitigation precautions as possible in order to provide a homecoming dance. Limiting attendees is one mitigation strategy,” Lawson stated.

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Simmons questions the decision to allow Raider Academy students to attend while refusing to allow a few virtual students to go.

While the Coffee County Virtual Academy handbook makes mention of student participation in athletics, there is nothing in the document about participation in extracurricular activities.

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About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

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