.

Shelton HS Senior Banned From Prom: 'It Just Seems a Little Extreme'

James Tate thought he was being original in his prom proposal to a friend, but ended up in hot water with the Shelton High headmaster.

When a senior went out of his way to make a to a friend, he never thought it would result in his being banned from the annual dance event altogether.

But that's just what happened after James Tate and two friends took a ladder, some tape and a handful of cardboard letter cutouts to the outside wall of the school’s main entrance.

“It was just to show my friend a grand gesture and I was wanting to do something fun and original,” Tate told Patch.

Early Friday morning, around 1 a.m., Tate taped the question “Sonali Rodrigues, will you go to prom with me?” in hopes that the message would surprise his prospective date and be a neat talking point for the day.

The good: Rodrigues said 'Yes.' The bad: Tate’s prom hopes were crushed when gave him and the two friends one day of in-school suspension.

“School policy is that if you get an in-school after April 1, you can’t go to prom,” Tate said.

Smith was not immediately available for comment.

According to Tate, Smith justified the punishment by telling him that not only had he trespassed on school property, his actions also posed a safety risk.

“It’s not like we broke into the school or anything, though,” Tate said. “And I wore a helmet and brought friends along to hold the ladder and hand me the letters with tape on them.”

Tate said that when his headmaster gave her sentence, he tried to “air grievances and make a compromise with the administration” to no avail.

“I understand their reasoning that there needs to be consequences against me to avoid students one-upping in the future, but I offered to collect litter around the school and argued other options,” Tate said. “Give me a week of detention, but don’t give me an in-school suspension so that I can’t go to prom. It just seems a little extreme.”

Tate said that he is upset. “I feel like a jerk for getting my friends in trouble and for screwing Sonali out of a date," he said.

Tate said Rodrigues will still attend prom, but with a girlfriend rather than him.

As for the outpouring of support for him on Facebook, Tate said he feels grateful to have so many people on his side, “but maybe it’s too little too late.”

Someone, Tate doesn’t know who, took to the social media site and created a “Let James Tate Go to the Prom” page on Tuesday night, which gained more than 1,000 supporters in a matter of hours.

“I don’t know if Facebook could persuade them to change their decision,” he said. “Anybody on a social media site can rant and rave but if it holds value – I don’t really know.”

sonja carroll May 13, 2011 at 05:30 PM
in a follow up article it states that the kids that go to this school that posted in favor of this kid of facebook were reprimanded and punished by the headmaster. she is taking her power a little too far. the kids that stick up for james on facebook is none of her business
LORI May 13, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Enough is enough... A lawyer needs to offer his or her services. I am sure the boy did not realize what he did was wrong, or punishable by in house, or out hourse suspension. Maybe something was posted.... but I would think that you would need to skip school, skip class, get in a fight, damage school property, etc to receive the punishment that he received. This rule needs to be revisited, where it makes sense. This to me makes little sense!! I hope the Dr. Beth Smith gets ticketed for cell phone usage or not stopping for a red light... not just pausing...Yes, we need rules... but how many laws are on the books that no longer make sense. Please... AGAIN, the Punishment does not fit the crime... if that is what she is calling it!!!!
LORI May 13, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Shelli Tressler Ricker Keep reposting to keep message up top!! Shelton High School - 203 922 3004 ext 512 Board of Education - 203 924 1023 Superintendents Office - 203 924 1023 ext 302 Mayors Office (203) 924-1555 ext 11 ...(*NEW*) EMAIL FORM on SHS site for Dr. Beth Smith: http://www.sheltonpublicschools.org/subsite/shs/contact/925
Billy Vick May 13, 2011 at 09:40 PM
I for one am tired of people breaking thr rules (no matter how good intentioned) and then mommy and daddy or the community or the "lawyers" rushing to get them out of it. THIS IS why we have schools full of unconrollable uneducated young people. They know no matter what they do SOMEONE will rush to get them out of it. The same thing carries over when they break the law (drinking under age, driving while inpaired, etc). It's about time to let these kids start learning at an early age THERE ARE CONSEQUENCE FOR BREAKING THE RULES. That way the jails would not be running over with juveniles being tried as adults, and 14-15 year olds having no fear at all in killing over a video game or tennis shoes.
Tangerine M. Bruton May 13, 2011 at 09:59 PM
Headmaster, Over time, in your school district, there must be quite a collection of young people who have graduated that have bad feelings toward their educators. Why create that with such a cookie cutter in school suspension policy? There are a lot of kids that just don't deserve a blanket policy that takes away what should be one of the largest memories of high school and coming of age.
erin bliss May 13, 2011 at 10:18 PM
No surprise here. School administrators take great pleasure in doing things like this to students. Nothing like ruining the final memories of his high school experience and that of his friends. I have friends who are teachers and I think there should be programs to stop teachers from bullying each other as well as the students. You couldn't pay me well into the six figures to teach children.
St Nick May 13, 2011 at 10:58 PM
Here is how I see it: Everyone has overlooked a very simple solution to the prom issue ........ MOVE THE PROM !!! Take the prom off campus and she has no control of it, The school only has control of the event while it is held on school property.
Ned May 13, 2011 at 11:01 PM
I'm 67 and wondering if Dr. Smith (cant be a Dr of Education) is the sister of Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Good Grief Lady give the kid and sanity a break. Go take your flustrations out on someone who can fight back.
Howard Sheffer May 13, 2011 at 11:20 PM
Just like all "zero tolerance" rules it is zero common sense. School administration following the usual... pick on something small while all the big and important stuff goes over their empty heads. Hope they fire those responsible for this travesty!
Dina May 13, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Well done Dr. Smith! I applaud your resolve to do the right thing.
Billy Wilson May 14, 2011 at 01:42 AM
The in-school suspension (automatically prohibiting the student's prom attendance) could not possibly have been Dr. Smith's only option for disciplinary action. It sounds like she has some issues of her own. I believe she might have served the school community better by using this example to clearly define the rules and consequences of this sort of thing for all to see, effectively discouraging similar future behavior. For the sake of her career, I hope she plans on staying at SHS until she retires. I can't imagine any school board hiring her after this truly ridiculous, inflexible stand.
christopher May 14, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Yes, I agree, boycott that wicked witch of the west, LOL!!! If anyone puts together a rally, please let us know, my classmates and I will attend with big signs boycotting SMITH!!!
christopher May 14, 2011 at 02:39 AM
I agree, James is a very romantic unique kid! that principal is just jealous no one perhaps romances her as James did with Rodrigues.
christopher May 14, 2011 at 02:41 AM
I think we can compare this principal actions with Osama Bin Laden evil ways!
christopher May 14, 2011 at 02:45 AM
I agree with you, I for one would like to see those rules to see if it saids anything about taping cardboard letters to a wall is a crime because for some reason I feel Smith just made that one up as she goes along.
christopher May 14, 2011 at 02:47 AM
she can take it out on me, LOL I'll give her a run for her money! LOL
Beth May 14, 2011 at 04:09 AM
BILLY WILSON....IT COULDN'T HAVE BEEN BETTER SAID ...RIGHT ON !!!!
Sharon May 14, 2011 at 04:05 PM
I am 68 years old and think this Headmaster is dead wrong on her decision to not let this Honor roll student, never been in trouble and apparently a very upstanding young man, not go to his Senior Prom because of such a warm hearted invitation to his favorite girl. Give the world and him a break, let's hear something good in the news that you have decided to let him go to the Prom. Otherwise, if I were the other student's, we would all boycott the Prom and go elsewhere, without you invited.
christopher May 14, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Most of all Americans at one point or the other have posted up signs on town or utility companies property, such as LOST PET, TAG SALES, or innocent ADVERTISEMENTS and I have yet not seen ANYONE get punished in such an EVIL WAY as JAMES HAS. SMITH NEEDS TO RESIGN BECAUSE EDUCATING YOUNG PEOPLE IS BY NO MEANS ANYTHING CLOSE TO WHAT SHE HAS DONE!! FIRST OF ALL, THERE SHOULD NOT BE ANY PUNISHMENT TO WHAT THIS YOUNG MAN DID AS A ROMANTIC COMMUNICATION TOWARDS THE YOUNG LADY, SECOND, IF YOU MUST PUNISH, THERE IS ENOUGH COMUNITY SERVICE AVAILABLE THIS INTELLIGENT LOOKING YOUNG MAN WOULD HAVE PROBABLY CHOSEN TO DO RATHER THAN BANNING HIM FROM SUCH A SPECIAL NITE FOR EVERY YOUNGSTER. MRS GRINCH OR SUE (FROM GLEE) GET OVER YOURSELF!!!!! PLEASE SOMEONE ORGANIZE A RALLY TO BOYCOTT MRS GRINCH,,,,,,,,I"LL BE THERE!!!
christopher May 14, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Glee might hire her to be play the role of Sue, the gym evil teacher's evil sister!! LOL
Pat May 14, 2011 at 04:44 PM
PLEASE REMOVE ME FROM YOUR EMAIL LIST!!!
anon May 14, 2011 at 04:49 PM
Pat, i know, my e-mail has been flooded with comments ever since i posted mine ... i think you would have to go to your Patch account and deactivate it ... but now that he's allowed to go to prom, i think the comments should slow down
EOB May 15, 2011 at 10:41 PM
Actually, he did. There's locks on the doors for a reason.
Scott May 17, 2011 at 01:45 PM
I am frankly concerned about all of the attention our society has placed on exonerating a kid who did something wrong -- and in the process, belitted a school adminstrataor and cast her as the criminal. Shame on us, not her, for missing the entire point of this travisty. Let's be honest, Tate knew what he was doing was wrong, in some way. Most of us recognize that we are not at liberty to use the side of a public building as a personal message board (romatic or not) If we assume he knew this was wrong, then he should have investigated and weighed the consequences of his actions vs. the benefit, or said another way, taking responsibility for his actions (something we don't value any more). If he were a real folk hero -- he would have used the opportunity to follow through and show he was the bigger person by refusing to go to the prom. Perhaps the punishment does not fit the crime...or maybe it does, but this is not the point. The point is we have selected the wrong cause for our outrange and anger. If we applied the same passion and efforts to topics like world humger, social justice and human rights, the world might become a better place, but we have found it easier to comfort a sulky teen than stand up for the issues that matter most. What comes next after the Tate scholarship? action figures, a bronze statue, national holiday or a reality series. Shame on all of us.
AC May 17, 2011 at 02:17 PM
I agree with you Scott. I am a Shelton graduate watching all this from afar, and it makes me very sad to see how little the community seems to care about the integrity Beth Smith has shown in upholding protocol in order to create a safe education environment. Glorifying Tate and creating a scholarship in his name is laughable for me -- I can name several SHS graduates off the top of my head who have gone on and done amazing things in medicine, in the arts, and have done things praiseworthy and inspiring. I'm not lumping all of Shelton together, but I think the people who really stirred this into a frenzy and who joined in with the threats to the administration need to apologize in some way. Or at least take a good hard look within and ask themselves if something like this is really all that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. I just hope that everyone, participant or no, learns something from this!
christopher May 17, 2011 at 03:10 PM
I for one do not critisize nor undermine Smith's integrity in "upholding protocol", however, I do not comprehend how her judgement influences one way or the other education environment as safe or unsafe. The fact we "the community" did not agree with her double punishment towards James it is simply an American freedom we in this country enjoy in which we are able to voice our opinions particularly when it comes to issues related to those on salaries financed by "us" the taxpayers.
tes May 18, 2011 at 05:04 AM
Honestly, The adminastrature needs to congradulate the kid for being so creative.It makes the head of the school look stupid, uncareing, and spiteful. While the teenager look like a careing, creative, and romantic teenager. Bet the girls really like him now. Schools leaders keep making themselves look like they are inmature and freak out so they set higher punishments. Is the head of the school asking for trouble? If you keep pushing kids for nothing they will rebel and then you have hell on your hands. By setting this boy as an example the younger teens will know about it and will see how much trouble they can get into by doing something alot worse. The kid did nothing wrong but the head of the school is WRONG! And should tell the teen they are sorry for acting the way they are.
Ronald Kruger May 19, 2011 at 02:08 AM
Am I the only person who think he got what he deserved? What if this kid fell off the ladder and broke his back or snapped his neck? What would Shelton be saying then. Mrs. Smith gave the right punishment. The school as a whole is liable. If this kid was such an all star what led him to do something obnoxious and obscene? Rules are in place for a reason. I don't mean to say that it's all 100% because look at some other poster on this thread talking about smoking weed and still going to the prom. I think this kid is making a mountain out of a molehill. Just bring your Girlfriend somewhere else. It's not the end of the world. I never attended any prom when I went to school because I was worried about school and learning I didn't always think with what's in between my pants. Use your brain and you would have realized it's not a good idea. Of course the media is going to glorify him and smear Mrs.Smith. SHS has had a lot of trouble recently I don't see why the rules shouldn't be extra tough. I'll say it again son you broke the rules and got banned. Now,please stop e-mailing me this!
bebe May 21, 2011 at 09:37 PM
the poor kid was just trying to do something different. he did absolutly nothing wrong!!!!
michael May 01, 2012 at 04:55 AM
these cops and persons put their judgement on others are emotionally weak...immature, and are not able to handle freedom. they are ugly.selfish and childish..they will not be in the kingdom of heaven and will not like the angels who put it to them/////hey all of you who judge, you are asking satan to take your souls...fools each and every one.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something