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Video: James Tate Can Go to Prom [Update]

Facing a national outcry, officials in Shelton, Conn. on Saturday reversed a decision to ban senior James Tate from the big dance.

can have his romantic dance after all.

Officials in Shelton, Conn. today said that the high school senior, whose following a creative proposal sparked a , will be allowed to go to prom along with the two friends who helped him with the proposal.

Speaking before about 10 media members on the steps outside Shelton High School — the same steps where she dug in with a — Headmaster Dr. Beth Smith said that after careful consideration, Tate can attend.

"I never thought that such a decision would lead to international notoriety as I make tough, unpopular decisions on a daily basis," Smith said.

Tate could not immediately be reached for comment.

After Smith made her statement, superintendent of public schools Freeman Burr and Mayor Mark A. Lauretti stuck around to speak with reporters.

"I think this is a learning experience for all," Burr said. "Students will certainly look differently as they move forward, and I think they'll create self-discipline strategies for how they conduct themselves."

"But let's not lose sight of the fact that kids will be kids," added Lauretti.

He and Burr both said that Smith handled the situation in a professional and considerate manner, despite the negative reputation she gained over the Internet.

"This should not diminish all the hard work that Dr. Smith has done in her career here at Shelton High School," Burr said. "She came in three years ago, took a school that had some drastic and radical issues, and basically worked with the staff to rebuild the school community, to restore a sense of order, a sense of discipline, so we would have an academic environment for students to be educated. That can't be dismissed."

Lauretti agreed that "she [Smith] shouldn't be so heavily-handed judged."

The reinstatement bookends a week-long media frenzy that started with that Tate had been banned from prom after he was issued an in-school suspension May 6. The suspension was triggered by an infraction for trespassing on school grounds before dawn that day, when Tate and some friends taped pieces of cardboard to the exterior of the school, with letters spelling out the question “Sonali Rodrigues, will you go to prom with me?” to surprise his prospective date.

The school reversed its decision, but it isn't clear whether administrators legally could have prevented Tate from attending prom if he'd chosen to fight the ban. As legislators worked to that would help Tate's cause, one Branford attorney told Patch Saturday that for filing injunctions that prevent prom bans in similar cases.

The national outcry voiced itself through social media and national TV, as Tate appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel and Today shows. A Shelton high alum formed an alternative event to be held June 4, “The James Tate Senior Prom 2011,” whose supporters reportedly include Pepsi, Red Bull and an area Hyundai dealership.

Leslye May 15, 2011 at 02:24 AM
Argnus University allow you to post signs of many as long as it's reasonable, for the most part of this issue of breaking the rules, in the United States rules are made to be broken for many good and bad reasons, the key point is making a logical sound decision to a situation of any kind. I do not believe the headmaster has done, knowing this was the young man's last memorable moment in high school, and has never been in trouble prior. So it was a harsh decision period.
Annette Mackell May 15, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Congatulations! No one should miss their prom!!!!
Cooper May 15, 2011 at 02:28 AM
I completely Gree with Isaac Chase, be safe James and somali. Don't do anything stupid!
Al Phresceaux May 15, 2011 at 02:28 AM
Boy, she is a hard case. It is clear from her little speech that her intention is that the students are not permitted to enjoy their time there.
Dorothy Prater May 15, 2011 at 02:35 AM
For those that refuse to comprehend, the child was punished, he had a 1 day suspension. And once again it seems that we are hearing from those that choose to call names and verbally assault our youth of today. One can only pray that people like this are not blessed with children of their own to abuse!!!!!!
Leslye May 15, 2011 at 02:40 AM
Borgos A break please! Being called a Dr. you don't get a chance to make mistakes such as this harsh so called mistake. Let's keep it real here knowing she's not a Dr. per se in the operating room, but education as in being called a Dr. is just as important not to make mistakes such as... she did not do her analysis thoroughly before making this decision, she just jumped straight to the point, you are outed. Apparently she does not have kids??? If she did a decision like this would have never been made in the first place.
Rebecca Drozd May 15, 2011 at 02:41 AM
Except for the fact Argnus, that their website is sheltonpublicschools.org I think it is safe to say that it indeed IS a public school.
Marjorie Lefler May 15, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Conn. Principal - OK, so you flubbed up - don't take yourself so seriously - nobody cares about your reputation - we all just want the young ones to enjoy their youth and their prom evening. You should look for bigger problems in the world to solve. Grow up and go do something that really makes a difference in the world. Don't become a mean and bitter person to young love. Go do something that makes the world a little lovlier.
Leslye May 15, 2011 at 02:56 AM
James Tate Congrats and have a fun safe prom night, continue to be creative as you as were with the signs, after all it is very much how you think outside the box, of course using logical decisions and I think you have done this with the signs. Keep up the great work! You done nothing wrong. In the United States rules and regulations are made to be broken for good and bad reasons, the key point is using logical thinking when breaking them. But Please do not go to other countries and try breaking the rules and regulations under any circumstance or face the consequences not in associate with the United States.
Dave Hanson May 15, 2011 at 03:06 AM
Many times there are "zero tolerance" school rules that mandate an automatic consequence for certain acts or rules violations.-weapons, drugs, fighting, vandalism etc. By placing the sign on the school James Tate and his friends may have "tripped" one of the zero tolerance rules and the consequence just followed. These rules are set up this way so that no teacher, administrator, Board of Ed member, Mayor, law enforcement etc. can be accused of racial or socio-economic bias in the dispensation of consequences. In other words no one has to take any responsibility. As usual, "zero tolerance" leads to zero thinking. Or does it? If Mr. Tate were black or Hispanic would people be calling the act " romantic" and " creative?" or would it just be called an act of vandalism? The punishment for the" crime" would still be just as stupid but would it have been reversed? The headmaster may have had no choice at first but to impose the sanctions she did. It is a tempest in a tea cup and sells news papers and ad time simply because of its stupidity. Frankly, this time of year, too much effort spent on prom, not enough keeping up GPAs. U.S, still number 14 in world education.
Marlene Clark May 15, 2011 at 03:06 AM
The policy handbook leaves it up to the discretion of the administration as to the discipline that would be meted out - she could have given him an "alternative" discipline from the start!
ana May 15, 2011 at 03:08 AM
I dont agree with it, you commit a crime, no matter how small, you should pay its the real world not a good way to start out, I know people are not going to agree but whatever.
Janine Patterson May 15, 2011 at 03:35 AM
Way to go James!! Have a blast at Prom!!
Janine Patterson May 15, 2011 at 03:40 AM
You're right-some of us don't agree with you.
richele jansen May 15, 2011 at 04:47 AM
My goodness so many good points presented. 1 Clarification Dr. Smith is Headmistress (sounds a little creepy). I especially liked comments posted by Dave Hanson, Ron and Col Robert Ashworth. Tastefully presented and looking at the big picture on this issue. Trying to promote discipline that is sorely lacking in an already out of control public school system is needed. This was a huge black eye trying to spin on the bad judgement that the puppet Mistress had to give upon the Superintendent's orders. I am very happy that the smart & romantic Tate gets the girl ...just like poorly written movies. I think it was Ron who was explaining having to cover the school system's bottoms re: non -bias, racial equality on discipline. Interesting how open-minded everyone involved has been with the girlfriend. Wouldn't they try not to be hypocrites? Yeah, that would be a NO! From my personal experiences of following rules, being polite and respectful to teachers/professors. Being a do- gooder ...Nice guys finish last. As a lifelong bleeding heart and to a fault... it is like a bad habit. It has bothered me since being a teen to watch bad behavior being rewarded. I am a full blown adult and an old soul.
Ed May 15, 2011 at 05:13 AM
While I am quite happy for James Tate, I can not say I am happy about the administrative response. Superintendent Freeman Burr and alderman Jack Finn just don't seem to get it. How sad it took the quantity of social networking that took place for this decision to be reversed. They just don't seem to see the injustice. It is quite apparent that they are purely reacting to the pressure of the social networking response. This is not about competition between student and school district. It is not about romance. The response of the social networking could have gone the other way. This is about admitting an unfair policy procedure. While I am not fully trusting, I felt I understood Dr. Smith's motivations from her last press conference and would like to commend her for her solution, even though it was motivated by international pressure. Having been in education for many years, I fully understand the need to control student behavior, but we also teach a lesson via our method. Thank God for recent technology. Injustices in every vane of life can now be focused on and corrected, from the most minor to the most major.
Dorothy Prater May 15, 2011 at 06:57 AM
He did pay. He had a 1 day suspension. That was all he should have had in the first place. He didn't get away with anything. He served his punishment and quite frankly I think James will be stupendous in THE REAL WORLD !!!!!!!!!!
David May 15, 2011 at 11:51 AM
I commend Supt. Burr and Alderman Finn of Shelton, CT. Someone willing to review the circumstances of the event with an open & fair mind and with common sense had to restore adult professionalism that Dr Smith was obviously lacking. I remind James to practice better judgment in the future & comply with responsible thinking toward policy & avoid pranks. I commend his fellow students for the support they showed James & to muster a rally of support nationally & internationally. James, you & your young lady have a wonderful prom night with hopefully many good memories for years to come. God bless you in whatever your future holds.
soahs May 15, 2011 at 04:01 PM
Wonderful news! I am so glad that all 3 students will be allowed to attend their prom. But the fact remains that the actions of Dragon Lady reflect and will reflect in the future just how negatively she runs a school. These are kids, very easily influenced. Would YOU want to go through your teen years again? Many would not. The fact that those who wrote in support of the student on Facebook were inquisitioned and threatened says a lot. These students were threatened with also not being allowed their prom if they continued - off of school grounds. The school refused to comment to a radio dj. Dragon Lady brought in cops, the students were watched constantly. Those who run a school have a responsibility to the students, to us, to the future of America. Guide them well. Acting like a child yourself while children are in your care will only send the wrong message to the students you influence - when they go out into the real world. These students are the leaders of tomorrow. What do you think would happen if world leaders that we have to deal with on a daily basis, experienced the temper tantrums with someone like Dragon Lady?
Margo May 15, 2011 at 05:05 PM
O my God, she did make the reversal all about her..and the things she was accomplishing at the school.the students were distracted and couldn't learn properly?! Please,She made it more distracting by letting the punishment be unfit for the act. She is only looking out for herself by doing this in hopes she still has a job next year. And all you teachers that post..just because you are a "teacher" doesn't mean that you are the any better then the next person..there are alot of bad teachers..who love to blame the kids.And all of you who preach about "rules are rules" are all just cookie cut outs for what this country now wants. Don't question anything..rules, reasons, ethics,elders,athority.. just sit back be quiet and do as you are told. The biggest lesson here is DON"T sit back and be quiet and do as you are told..Queston everything! Especially the things you believe are not right! It brings about change..(ie. the way that school will be looking about things in the future) and that the voices of the people can still be heard! Look at the country. We are lied to on a daily basis by the media, the goverment, any person in a powerful position or anyone who has lots of money. That's the real story here. Congrats to James for not coloring inside the lines, for being creative without being distructive, and for getting so many people talking about an issue that should never have come to all this but did. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR VOICE AND QUESTION ANYTHING YOU BELIEVE IS NOT RIGHT!
NCMom May 16, 2011 at 12:28 AM
sadly, i doubt her decision would have changed if not for the INTENSE national media spotlight brought to bear on her eggregious interpretation of actions that merit severe disciplinary response. It is likely the tip of her overzealous punishing iceburg. A public investigation is needed. Property values are likely to be negatively effected as who wants to buy a home in Shelton now to allow that kind of irrational, small-minded thinking to effect their child in school, let alone support her salary via your property taxes?
NCMom May 16, 2011 at 12:35 AM
Argnusamous -- it IS Shelton PUBLCI high school supported by taxpayer's dollars -- no tuition and not a private school at all.
Katrina Oakes May 16, 2011 at 02:14 PM
Some of the comments that I have read are great! There is just something I would like to add...this was a sign that could be taken down at any time it did not deface anything and should not have "tripped" any sort of zero tolerance rule because there is no crime in posting a sign that isn't offensive. Nobody but the staff that chose to punish this boy for NOTHING thought it was offensive. I would like to point out that the girl doesn't have light skin. I could not tell what her ethnic background is by just looking at the video, but I did notice that she is quite a few shades darker than the boy. Is the REAL reason the superintendent and the other adult responsible for this whole media uproar is because they are actually RACIST? It seemed to be strikingly apparent to me that they felt that the white boy shouldn't be asking a girl with a different ethnic background than he. I think the rules were NEVER BROKEN! The think is I was in school once and we posted signs all over, for events like prom, football games, hockey games, wrestling matches, homecoming and many other things. If someone had asked someone to a dance with a sign it would NOT have been "against the rules". WHAT A CROCK! The boy didn't break any rule, the sign was removable because it was made entirely of tape, and it didn't say anything offensive in the least. This is clearly a racial issue for the two adults involved and they ought to be FIRED! FIRE THE SUPERINTENDENT FOR BEING A RACIST ASS!!!
AC May 16, 2011 at 04:20 PM
To all of you above that are slandering Dr. Beth Smith... I am a Shelton High alum, and while I do think the prom ban was a little harsh, let me just say this: It's only prom. It's not the most important night of your life. Yes, it's fun, but no, no one will care about your prom, including you, ten even five years down the road. So all of you yelling to "Fire the Superintendent for being a racist ass" need to watch yourself. You are posting these threats on the internet, where you can easily come under fire yourself and get in trouble for slander and threats. So please, consider taking these comments down before you get yourself in trouble. Second of all, do you realize that Beth Smith was getting death threats? Over a PROM? James Tate and Christian Ianucci -- the mentioend Shelton alum that took up Tate's cause and rallied the international media behind him -- owe Beth Smith and the administration a huge apology. How on earth can any of you consider death threats as an acceptable retaliation? Shelton high students and alums who fed this fire, you should all be ashamed of yourselves. This was not a victory for free speech and triumphing over "the man." This was an embarrassment for Shelton High and all associated with it. You go to high school for an education, not to garner a hyperactive and glittering social life. Dr. Beth Smith has been working hard to make sure you get that education, and you have all proven yourself ungrateful, and undeserving.
Dorothy Prater May 16, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Please do not paint us all with the same brush A.R.C. That makes you no better than whomever made the death threats. I am quite certain that none of us here would ever condone such a thing. And I see that you use that same brush for all Shelton students and alumni. I believe you are the one who should be ashamed for your assumption that we are all bad. Is this the narrow minded tunnel vision education that Shelton High is producing? I pray that it isn't. I think you need to rethink your post and make the appropriate apologies. Because you too, are an embarrassment to Shelton !!!!!
Sandy Beach May 16, 2011 at 07:12 PM
Thank you to Superintendent Freeman Burr for stepping up to the plate. Personally, I believe an in school suspension is just, fair and reasonable. However, as I stated last week, the April 1 date should never have a bearing in any case. Simply put, why should a student who commits an offense before April 1 and one who commits an offense after April 1 be treated differently? It makes one wonder just how many minor and first time offenders have missed out on their prom due to this unfair rule/policy.
Robyn Ostrow May 16, 2011 at 08:11 PM
What James Tate did was something sweet and romantic and should have been applauded. Instead it was met with excessive punishment by a mean spirited administrator. If not for an international outcry Beth Smith would not have changed her decision. The fact that the outcome has changed does not excuse what Beth Smith has done. She did nothing to make it right of her own volition and never apologized to the child. I am certain this was not the first time Beth Smith acted in a mean and inappropriate way. She should not be in charge of anyone or anything. She should be removed from her position and the school. As a parent I would not want my children anywhere near this evil and malicious person. I am sure Beth Smith would like nothing more than for this incident to fade away. It is too late for that. Beth Smith's intention was to intentionally hurt a child who had hurt no one. It is now obvious to everyone what a reprehensible person she is and the school board needs to stand up and fire Beth Smith.
Knight Chamberlain May 17, 2011 at 12:39 AM
Let's hear it for the power of the social media!!!
Mark DiMattia May 17, 2011 at 01:33 AM
Hooray for James! Hooray for love! Hooray for justice! And shame on the school officials for even causing this problem in the first place, and for some of their absurd comments to the press about social media and competing with kids on the same level, etc. What kind of morons are they? They've taken nitwit to whole new levels. We have a saying in Italy.. "Le putrefazioni dei pesci dalla testa". It means, "The fish rots from the head". And that appears to be the case here. The idiots in charge have set the standard for lunacy for their underlings. To James I say congratulations man! And to the moron who wrote the comment playing that very tired race card, give it a very much needed rest, ok? You find what you seek, and if that's what you're looking for in all of this, i feel very sorry for you. It couldn't be any less romantic if the kid was purple!
Dorothy Prater May 17, 2011 at 02:41 AM
Yes, definitly!!! Now there is another one that needs our help!! An 8th grade girl was punished for reporting 2 kids having sex on the school bus, while 8 chaperones were up front watching t-v!!!! All details are available at Team Roundtree on facebook. What is our educational system coming to?????

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