SHELTON, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Connecticut high school has changed its mind about allowing a student to go to his senior prom.

Shelton High School student James Tate was barred from the end-of-year dance after a very public proposal to a classmate. After days of standing firm on the issue, the school announced a change of heart on Sunday.

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“I’ve decided to implement alternative consequences on a case by case basis beginning with James Tate and for other students who received suspension after April 1st, which would then permit some to attend prom,” Dr. Beth Smith, headmaster at Shelton High School, said Saturday in a statement.


Tate nearly missed out on the big dance after he taped his invitation – made of 12” cardboard letters – to the outside wall of his school.

Many – including intended recipient Sonali Rodrigues, who said yes to Tate’s proposal – found the message romantic.

“If someone did that for me, I mean, that would be…amazing,” one student said.

The school, though, wasn’t in love with the gesture. It got Tate, and two friends who helped him, suspended – and booted from their prom.

“Students receiving an in-school or out-of-school suspension after April 1 for any reason would not be allowed to attend the prom,” Headmaster Smith said Thursday.

Tate’s plight went viral, and his story became a cause célèbre after it garnered national attention.

Two Connecticut lawmakers even said they were introducing legislation that would allow the Shelton high school teenager to attend his prom.

Republican State Reps. Jason Perillo of Shelton and Sean Williams of Waterbury said they were drafting an amendment that would force school officials to give parents an option of community service when a student is barred from a school event for a policy violation within the last month of the school year.

“Give the kid a break,” Perillo said. “It was cute. It was far more romantic and creative than anything I could ever come up with.”

After Saturday’s announcement, it seems like all of that attention made a difference.

“James Tate set a new level of romanticism that’ll be a challenge for all of us here, but we’re happy to put this behind us,” Schools Superintendent Freeman Burr said.

As for Tate, he didn’t seem to have many regrets – not about his own part, at least.

“I was proud of what I did, I think Sonali liked it,” he said. “The one thing, again, my friends got in trouble. If I were to do it again, I’d probably do it alone.”

Tate’s friends will get to go to the prom as well. Prom night for Shelton High School’s senior class is scheduled for June 4.

A Connecticut high school headmaster reversed her decision to ban a student from the prom after he broke school rules by hanging his prospective date’s invitation at the school entrance.

School administrators barred Shelton High School student James Tate from the June 4 dance after he asked a girl to prom by posting an invitation in big cardboard letters in the side of the school.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (25)
  1. Joshua says:

    Is he blind? She looks hideous. He must be desperate.

    1. Lazy Thoreau says:

      are you kidding? He looks hideous. They were made for each other.

  2. B. Agostino says:

    Concerned Adult sounds like someone with a bidet and
    a large sign to use it or else.
    Back to the law firm Monday,, I guess?

  3. Grady O'Brien Karautler says:

    Yay to Tate.
    It is hard when institutions try to make us all one and alike
    to be separate from the crowd,you did it man and should be
    rewarded by the educator “grownups” at Shelton not ridiculed
    and punished. Cool that you won.
    I went to HS in the 1950’s and this would not have been
    an issue ,you might have been rewarded for pasting up
    all those letters ,not even using chalk.

  4. guest says:

    Hope they are prom King and Queen!!

  5. C G says:

    I agree with “Concerned Adult” however the punishment was probably over the top, Also, yeah, “we all remember when were were adolescents we did bad things”, but when we (adults) make a decision and then relent, it sends a bad message. Maybe the school could have handled the situation differently like having the parents and students meet and make any corrective action plan like a public apology from the kid saying ” I will not deface public/private property again.” …

  6. Too much meddling says:

    Most everyone agrees that the boy was wrong to do what he did and that the punishment went too far. But it’s a matter between him and the school. Enacting laws to keep schools from withholding prom privileges is going over the top.

  7. rsjackson says:

    congratulations, i know you learned your lesson and I hope that you have a great time 🙂

  8. Concerned Adult says:

    Both the public outcry about what should have simply remained an in-house discipline issue between student and school and the school’s decision to override its own policy simply because of outside pressure is indicative of what is wrong with American society. People constantly complain about how immature are adolescents and young adults, but we continually send them the message (through our actions) that being a deviant is okay so long as you are young and we think you are cute. Why should the seriousness of the student’s actions be dismissed under the guise of romanticism or cuteness? His leaving a note in the young woman’s locker or asking the appropriate school administrators permission to ask the same question to the young woman over the intercom after the Pledge of Allegiance or morning announcements is romantic. Even shouting the question to a crowded lunchroom would have achieved the same publicity of the inquiry in a legal manner, But taping the message to the façade of the building is defacement of private property and vandalism. Everyone knows that such actions are against school policy and the law, all students at this school seem very aware of the policy regarding suspensions after April 1st and exclusion of prom, so, he should not have done this if he wanted to go to prom. This is a slippery slope that only will lead to bolder misdeeds (most likely by people other than this young man) without fear of repercussions. Rules are meant to deter us from acting on whims. Without regard for these rules, chaos ensues.

    1. Jared says:

      What an IDIOTIC statement! Seriously? You never made any errors in judgement when you were a kid? “Let’s act like the Gustapo here and punish everyone for everything.” You know, because of idiots like you, our jails are overcrowded… and those who litter on the sidewalk or violate homeowner association rules are “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” (Unfortunately, at the same time, those who commit murder are often “aquitted” when they have millions of dollars to spend on an attorney.)

      Look, just because you bend the rules a couple times as a teenager (which EVERYONE does), does not mean you’re headed for juvenile delinguency. I made plenty of errors in judgment when I was his age, and I’m a law enforcement officer with a master’s degree. Why don’t we, as Amricans, focus more on enforcement of serious offenses?? I think that’s a little more realistic than trying to enforce perfection and losing sight of the ball! What is “wrong with America” is that A) the decision was made to ban him from prom in the FIRST place and B) people like you live here! You really need to pull your head out of your butt.

      1. Concerned Adult says:

        Interesting response, Jared, considering I never claimed that the school’s policy was a good one. I simply stated that it is being repealed for the wrong reason. Had parents and students spoken out against the policy when it was conceived, citing that it didn’t take into account important factors like the severity of the offense and the nature of the offender (i.e. how many other times he/she had broken school policies), I would say that the argument had merit. Heck, I would even seriously consider the argument and probably side with the parents and students had such an upheaval been made upon the first student barred from prom under this seemingly over-generic school policy. Yet, this is clearly not the case since now the school has the task of reviewing the matter of several students barred from prom for being suspended after April 1st. My issue is with the fact that NO ONE cared about the school’s stringent policy until this young man made headlines and that the only reason people care is because he is a likeable bloke. Where were the concerns when Johnny was suspended after April 1st for mouthing off to a teacher and then told he couldn’t go to the prom? Nowhere because such a person, while equally harmless given that emotions regarding grades run high during senior year, is not as sympathetic to the mainstream population that has to deal with the frustration of their own teenagers mouthing off to them from time to time.

        Your subjective justice is the reason America is in this mess. If one is opposed to a law, be opposed to it for the nature of the law and not merely for the sake of one individual. Point in case: A juvenile on probation for a break-in snubs the terms of his probation when breaking into a home and stealing many irreplaceable valuables like family heirlooms and an engagement ring. The juvenile simply is given another year probation to be served concurrently with the remainder of his original probation. Although the original terms of his sentence was to assist in the identification and prosecution of his accomplices in the hopes that some of the items were returned to the victims of the break-in, he is excused from it because he simply doesn’t want to “sell out” his friends like that. Restitution is ordered but the system says that they cannot make him pay it. Is that okay? Under your system, Jared, it is because he simply made a little judgement error and we don’t want to be the Gestapo. Also, it clearly is under the current system since the above situation is not a hypothetical one but one that actually happened to a friend of mine last year.

        Interestingly enough, the Gestapo persecuted people simply based on religious preference or ethnicity and not for what they did or did not do. Are you seriously going to tell me that freedom to attend prom is one of the internationally recognized human rights alongside that of freedom of religion and speech? Get serious!

    2. TomNJ says:

      I Agree

      1. TomNJ says:

        I agree With Concerned Adult, not Jared.

  9. Rodin says:

    CONGRATS, James and Sonali. Have a great time!

  10. ed says:

    what do we do next year when someone (and they will) spray paints those words on a school building ?

  11. TomNJ says:

    yes, why should we follow any rules? I am sure he has learned that if you get enough publicity, you can get away with anything without consequences. Welcome to the adult world, were rules and laws can be ignored if the right people complain loud enough.

    1. doc in NJ says:

      well said.

  12. angus says:

    Congratulations Mr. Tate. Not only have you won your right to go to the prom, you have a GORGEOUS lady to accompany you! WELL DESERVED. She was worth the extra trouble.

  13. Michael says:

    Pardon my typo. Meant to say step up for something.

  14. Michael says:

    Pardon my typo. Meant to say step upfor something.

  15. john reed says:

    i agree 100%

  16. Bernie Sanders says:

    glad it worked out have a blast !

  17. Too much meddling says:

    Tell those state reps to mind their own business. The publicity was enough to get it solved.

    1. Michael says:

      YEAH RIGHT MEDDLING. Then when the state reps don’t step for something, you’ll be bashing them because they didn’t. get a life.

      1. Too much meddling says:

        Most everyone agrees that the boy was wrong to do what he did and that the punishment went too far. But it’s a matter between him and the school. Enacting laws to keep schools from withholding prom privileges is going over the top.

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