As it turns out, romance and chivalry are not dead in Connecticut. At least not in the minds of officials at Shelton High School.
James Tate, who earlier this month splashed a prom proposal on the front of his school and found himself slapped with an in-school suspension and barred from the prom a result, will attend the dance of the year after all.
School officials called a surprise news conference on Saturday and acknowledged the case had attracted “international notoriety.” It was the first crack in the armor from the school’s headmaster all week, despite a seemingly universal outcry from the public and even state legislators and the governor.
“While it seems that there are rules that were broken, in this case, it doesn’t seem as though the punishment fits the crime,” Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy said in a statement earlier in the week.
A Republican state legislator had also begun drafting legislation that would have allowed Tate to go to the prom by letting students suspended late in the year perform community service instead of being barred from the big dance.
A Facebook page with nearly 200,000 supporters was established decrying Tate’s punishment to be too harsh, even though the school’s headmaster insisted the “practice of banning students [from prom] who were suspended after April 1 has been standard for many years.”
James Tate and two friends posted foot-tall cardboard letters outside of Shelton High School in early May that read: “Sonali Rodrigues, Will you go to the prom with me? HMU –Tate.” (HMU translates to hit me up, or call me.) School officials said the proposal constituted trespassing and a safety risk.
Yesterday the headmaster issued a statement saying she “never thought her decision to ban Tate from the prom would lead to international notoriety, as I make tough, unpopular decisions on a daily basis.”
The statement also said changing the policy to allow alternate consequences on a case-by-case basis would allow some students, including Tate, to attend the prom.
“This decision will allow Shelton High School to focus our classroom discussions on established curriculum and continue to encourage students to develop to their full potential,” she said.
No word yet on the color of Tate’s cumberbund and if he will buy his date a dress or wrist corsage.
Will you sleep better knowing James Tate will attend his prom?