ROCHELLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Governor Nathan Deal is weighing in on the controversy surrounding a group of students efforts to host Wilcox County's first integrated prom.
The governor's office spokesperson Brian Robinson released this statement on Monday:
"Gov. Deal is focused on reviewing the legislation that was passed in the legislative session and bringing jobs to Georgia. In the Wilcox County case, the governor expects and trusts that local leaders will find a long-term solution that protects the equal rights of all students regardless of race or ethnic background."
Better Georgia, a progressive advocacy group, called on elected officials to publicly support Wilcox County's integrated prom. Shortly after 41NBC's story, the group of Wilcox County High School seniors gained national attention for their efforts to break tradition. Currently, Wilcox County's school system doesn't sponsor any school proms. However the county has a longstanding tradition of parents funding separate segregated 'proms'.
In a statement Better Georgia said, "the governor's office has taken the time to release two public statements about Wilcox County and neither statement shows that he is proud of the teens".
But Robinson said that's not the case. "Better Georgia misquoted the governor's office," he stated, "I believe the group is looking for publicity. Governor Deal is very proud of the students. He hopes they have a great time at the integrated prom and drive home safe."
According to Better Georgia, several elected officials, both Republican and Democrat have reportedly offered public statements of support:
The list includes, State Sen. Steve Henson, State Sen. Vincent Fort, Rep. Ed Lindsey, Rep. Stacey Abrams, Rep. Buzz Brockway, Rep. Virgil Fludd, Rep. Brett Harrell and Rep. Scott Holcomb.
Students at Wilcox County High School tell 41NBC that the "white prom" is scheduled for this Saturday. The integrated prom will be held April 27. This week, Wilcox County High School administrators discussed the possibility of hosting a school-sponsored prom in 2014. Wilcox County High's principal Chad Davis will not comment on the meeting.