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Retired Teacher on James Tate Prom Ban: Shelton HS Headmaster ‘Has a Backbone’

At least one person is speaking out in support of the Shelton High headmaster's decision to punish James Tate with no prom.

Amid the outcry against the administration's to push-back against ’s at least one former teacher says he agrees with the punishment.

Like many others around the nation, Paul Guerino of Elmhurst, IL read the stories about high school senior James Tate having his over a creative date proposal deemed violation.

But while tens of thousands of people joined Facebook groups in support of Tate and hundreds more commented on, emailed and called Patch to express their disappointment in Shelton High Headmaster Dr. Beth Smith, a different opinion that Smith had done the right thing came from Guerino.

Guerino is a retired teacher. He taught in the Chicago area for 45 years and is currently vying for a seat on the local public school board. Over the years, he said he has seen many accidents and injuries in schools where the blame wrongly falls on administration.

“Several of my friends were sued because children have been injured when they’ve been theoretically under the supervision of a teacher,” Guerino said.

He recalls one incident where a student slipped on grass while running during physical education class, landed on broken glass and suffered minor cuts. The child’s parents took legal action and won.

“Why these parents support these kids when they sue if the kid got hurt on no one’s fault absolutely blows my mind,” Guerino said.

In Tate’s case, Guerino feels the no-prom punishment is warranted because the student’s actions were “very dangerous” and posed a risk the school could be held accountable for, even if no teachers were involved.

“I figured he was at least 20 – 30 feet off the ground,” Guerino said. “If he fell he could have been seriously injured, had head trauma or even died. The teacher’s punishment sets a good example because she is looking to protect students. And all these people are saying she’s evil and in the wrong? I don’t get it.”

Guerino said it is hard to be an administrator in a public school, because oftentimes officials worry about appeasing taxpayers at the expense of student safety.

“When that happens there becomes no consequences – kids do stuff and experience no repercussions,” he said.

Dr. Smith has yet to comment on James Tate’s situation, and Guerino expressed that he “feels sorry” for her. However, he applauds her for being no shrinking violet, even as other students prepare to create for Tate himself.

“What this principal did was right. Not popular, but right. She’s got a backbone and that’s rare for administrators these days,” he said.

Tom Thordarson May 15, 2011 at 02:37 AM
Just heard on news here in L.A, California the GREAT news!!! YOU James are GOING to the PROM!! It makes my heart soar that there is justice after all... Bless you and have a magical, memorable prom James!! You had a lot of heart behind you! Freedom of speach and spirit is what founded this Country..let's pray it gets back on that track for our future American leaders!! Though a small symbol here...it sure makes me smile! There is no comment a nay sayer can make here any more...that has valdidity. You WON buddy...and just by being a a darn good guy and a truly creative original soul!
stephen posser May 15, 2011 at 05:05 PM
To Mr Guerino so said there was a lawsuit when a student running in GYM CLASS and he slipped and fell on some glass. Well as I remember from Gym class running was part of the curriculum and the school failed to keep grounds clean(from the glass and your narrow mind). The school deserved it. And those who use terms like liberal as excuses for problem kids are so out of tune with reality. This kid did absolutely nothing wrong except to show that the human race is not hopeless. Thank God the adminstration decided to allow James to go to the Prom. But what choice did they have-otherwise they would look more like jackasses than they already do.
Faith May 15, 2011 at 08:07 PM
I have noticed that when males feel threatened by a woman who,obviously makes more money than they do, or are more intelligent or hold a higher degree,they resort to ridiculing her looks or spreading rumors that perhaps she is "one of the boys". How sad is that! The woman is headmistress of a school which has 1600 students. SIXTEEN HUNDRED snot nosed, know- it- all "entitled"little punks who will try to get away with anything they possibly can and never face the music. No responsibility here! And Mom and Dad don't have the backbones to stand up to their little darlings and they let their little angels walk all over them,and ,why NOT?! These are children of the "entitled generation" to whom everything is owed.!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you even IMAGINE what it is going to be like in 50 years from now? Wah,wah,wah! I can't go to the prom because the mean principle said so. I'll just notify the news media and blow this episode out of proportion,and,get away with it! I sincerely hope that Dr Smith finds a much better paying job and leaves without giving much notice. She deserves better than this. The woman was following rules which have been in place for years." Mr " Twate ( oh, you want me to treat him as an adult?) trespassed on school grounds at 1 am, bypassing the LOCKED GATE,climbing a ladder in the dark( says he wore a helmet but I doubt that very much) stuck a ridiculous bunch of letters on a school leaving his NAME.Romantic? No. Stupid~ YES! This is our future????????
Faith May 15, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Now, that is an "intelligent" post if I ever read one. Move the prom to a different location (how about a sports bar?:) ,prom alone ( drugs and alcohol and maybe some hookers too) and show the adults just who the "bosses" are. WOW! So,you obviously feel that the world should be run by 17,18 year old kids! That is interesting! Most of you won't even volunteer to serve your country for 3-4 years,most of you feel that your parents were placed on this earth to cater to your every whim ,provide you with a car and a free college education and never ask a dime from you. And, then,you move back in with them after you graduate and suck off them for the remainder of their lives. NICE!
Paul May 16, 2011 at 01:00 AM
@Faith: First, I would ask if you have ever been a teacher in either a private or public school? To make sweeping statement as you have above, i.e., "SIXTEEN HUNDRED snot nosed, know-it-all 'entitled' little punks etc..." is not unlike any school administrator who makes the same sweeping disciplinary punishment for ALL and ANY school infraction. Please don't judge our young people of today based on hearsay. Perhaps you should spend some time in a teacher's shoes for a few days to see that not ALL teens are "snot nosed" as you presume. I have taught high school kids for over forty years...are there some snot nosed kids? sure! Are there some punks? sure! Entitled kids? sure! Helicopter parents? you bet! But, please don't judge every single young person, or sixteen hundred for that matter, based on your own prejudice. BTW, the Oxford dictionary defines prejudice as: noun; preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience

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