NEW YORK (Reuters) - Miss America has suggested officials at a Pennsylvania high school reconsider their decision to suspend a student for approaching her at a school assembly and asking her to be his prom date, the beauty queen said on Saturday.
The disciplinary action taken by school administrators in York against the 18-year-old senior made national headlines, and generated sympathy for the young man on social media.
A video of Central York High School senior Patrick Farves approaching 2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri on Thursday at a school assembly was posted on a local newspaper’s website.
It shows Farves walking up to Davuluri bearing a plastic flower and ask her to his prom, as the crowd of students erupts in laughter and cheers.
“I was flattered by the gesture, although I am unfortunately unable to attend due to my travel schedule,” Davuluri said in a statement posted to the pageant’s Facebook page.
“I later learned of the disciplinary action taken and reached out to the school in hopes that they will reconsider their decision,” she said.
Administrators had heard rumors Farves was planning to make the bold gesture of approaching Davuluri and warned him not to do so, Farves said in a phone interview on Saturday.
“By that time, my mind was already set,” he said. “I was already in the zone.”
Farves was given a three-day in-school suspension, which requires him to sit in a classroom and work alone. He said he now feels bad his stunt overshadowed efforts by Davuluri - the first-ever Indian-American Miss America pageant winner - to promote diversity.
“She was trying to get across a very strong message - about how it’s not about your beliefs or the color of your skin, but who you are,” he said.
Farves, who said his mother is white and his father is black, also said he regretted his action because school officials worked hard to organize the event.
While he has scores of new Twitter followers and Facebook friend requests, Farves said he remains without a date for his school’s May 10 prom.
School officials issued a statement on Central York High’s Facebook page, defending the decision to suspend Farves.
“It is not our practice to discipline a student for asking someone - even Miss America - to a school dance,” the statement said. “However, it is our practice to set expectations for student behavior, to communicate those expectations and rules to students and families and to ensure those rules are followed within our schools.”
A school spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Davuluri’s statement.
Reporting By Chris Francescani, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Sandra Maler