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School apologizes to airman and family

Published: Saturday, Aug. 1 2015 10:39 a.m. MDT

In this still image taken from an April 20, 2013 video provided by Tammy Garth, Airman Cassey Widener salutes as his sister, Courtrney Widener, arrives for prom at Liberal High School in Liberal, Kan. Courtney wanted her brother, recently returned from Afghanistan, to escort her to front door of the school, but school officials denied her request stating that at 22, he was too old to participate. The high school principal that barred Airman Cassey Widener from escorting his sister to prom has apologized, saying the intent was not to dishonor him. Deputy Superintendent Paul Larkin said Tuesday, April 30, 2013 that a policy change allowing exceptions to the age restriction will be presented at Monday?s school board meeting. (AP Photo/Tammy Garth) (Associated Press) In this still image taken from an April 20, 2013 video provided by Tammy Garth, Airman Cassey Widener salutes as his sister, Courtrney Widener, arrives for prom at Liberal High School in Liberal, Kan. Courtney wanted her brother, recently returned from Afghanistan, to escort her to front door of the school, but school officials denied her request stating that at 22, he was too old to participate. The high school principal that barred Airman Cassey Widener from escorting his sister to prom has apologized, saying the intent was not to dishonor him. Deputy Superintendent Paul Larkin said Tuesday, April 30, 2013 that a policy change allowing exceptions to the age restriction will be presented at Monday?s school board meeting. (AP Photo/Tammy Garth) (Associated Press)

WICHITA, Kan. — A Kansas high school principal who barred a member of the Air Force from escorting his sister to prom has apologized to him in an attempt to quell a firestorm that's been fueled by a YouTube video of the debacle and the girl's heartfelt letter to the newspaper.

A policy change allowing exceptions to the age limitation will be presented at Monday's upcoming school board meeting, Deputy Superintendent Paul Larkin said Tuesday. Current policy in the district located in the southwest Kansas community of Liberal prohibits anyone 21 years old or older from participating in prom activities.

The video that went viral showed Liberal High School junior Courtney Widener arriving at the April 20 prom with her 22-year-old brother, Senior Airman Casey Widener.

He stopped and stood at attention at the foot of the red carpet while Courtney and another girl continued unescorted across the promenade.

As she went inside, Casey crisply saluted her before turning and leaving amid applause from onlookers.

"There were hurt feelings on both sides, you know," Larkin said in a phone interview. "I think the best thing is when we came together. I don't think this family had any intention of shedding any negative light on the district whatsoever and by all means we had no intention of dishonoring their son."

At Courtney's request, school officials met with her and her family Monday afternoon during a meeting in which High School Principal Keith Adams apologized to her brother, The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times reported.

"I am sorry that Casey Widener was offended or dishonored in any way," Adams said. "That was not our intent."

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