Social Question

JilltheTooth's avatar

There's a huge national (international?) push on the Net to let James Tate attend his prom. What do you think (see details)

Asked by JilltheTooth (19772points) May 13th, 2011

Tate was suspended for defacing school property. The penalty for that is that any suspension happening after April 1st bars the offender from attending such school events. Would people be so gung-ho to have the punishment lifted for him if he had put up something that was not a prom invite? Do you think it would have gotten any media attention?

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40 Answers

cazzie's avatar

I have NO idea who this James Tate kid is.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My thought was Huh?

augustlan's avatar

Can you link us to the story?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Here’s the story from the Today Show. I have seen more of this nationally than locally. FaceBook has a support thing set up. I’m surprised you guys missed this. Maybe it’s not as big as I thought, but I’ve been seeing it everywhere!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Sorry Jill, I missed this one completely.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Well, now I just feel silly.

augustlan's avatar

Thanks. I think, if he knew that he’d be suspended for posting the sign on the wall, then he shouldn’t be able to go to prom. (He is being punished for trespassing after school hours, not defacing property, as what he did was only temporary.) However, I really think suspending for such a harmless action is a bit harsh. Hrm. Now I’m second guessing myself. I suppose you could say it’s a safety issue… they had to climb ladders to get those letters up there. Crap. I don’t know.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@JilltheTooth If it makes you feel better I got my ass busted for defacing school property.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I just find it interesting these types of things happen fairly often and get no attention, yet something with a potential knee-jerk emotional angle is set-up like this.
@augustlan : Yeah, there may have been a liability angle, I first heard it was a “defacing” issue.

Seelix's avatar

I have no doubt that there would be no story whatsoever if the graffiti had been anything other than a prom invite. Kid’s dumb, I think – if he really wanted to ask her in that way, he could’ve asked permission to be there before school hours, or something.

Tough cookies, kid – you get suspended, you don’t go to school events.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I hadn’t heard about this, but honestly, I think the school should stick to their policy. If they make this exception for him, what next? Do they make an exception for other people as well? Does ignorance of the policy (about suspensions after a certain point means a ban on going to prom) really turn into a “get out of jail free card”? If that’s the case, how many other students that are banned from prom can say, “but I didn’t know that it would mean I’d be banned from prom”?

ucme's avatar

International? Certainly not reached these shores (UK.)
Seems like a storm in a teacup to me, although his attention grabbing antics probably deserved some form of censure. Roughly translated as, serves you right you dumb brat!

cazzie's avatar

I don’t know how this is destructive behaviour. The letters were taped up and not painted on. He did it on the outside of the school and didn’t break into the school to do it. To me, this isn’t graffiti. It’s sweet. If he cleaned up the letters and it left no permanent damage to the building, I wouldn’t punish the kid. .... but I’m a hopeless romantic, or is that a hopeful romantic… or perhaps I’m a romance-less hopeful??

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I think they should let him go to prom but he should be made to wear a good-looking tux ! LOL

JLeslie's avatar

I was not aware of this story either. I think being suspended after a certain date affecting permission to go to the prom is kind of stupid. The article says it has been a policy for years, so I guess the students are aware? If the students know then they should not be able to go to prom. If it is a rule that no one is aware of, then I would make an exception maybe? I know ignorance of the “law” does not make something ok, but it sucks to miss a one and only prom, and I would hope this kid gets the message what he did was wrong anyway. But, if the school sticks to banning him, it does not bother me too much. Vandalism really pisses me off, it is not funny or cute in my opinion, and this teen has very fucked up judgment. Why not during school hours put up a large poster stating the same thing?

KatawaGrey's avatar

Thank you for asking this!

I think it is ridiculous that there is such a big push. He broke the rules, he’s paying the price. Did he think that by doing something that both broke school rules and was potentially dangerous, no action would be taken? Sorry, I don’t care how romantic the gesture was or if some kids think it is unfair. He knew there would be consequences and he did it anyway.

Also, no one seems to care that his two buddies aren’t going to prom. Everyone is crying for Tate to go, but no one cares about the guys who held the ladder for him you know, so he wouldn’t fall and die during this stupid and potentially dangerous stunt.

Cruiser's avatar

The rule of not being able to attend a school function with suspensions after April 1st. seems discriminatory but obviously in place to prevent Senior pranks towards the end of the year…but this was a simple cute gesture not a prank and IMO not part of the reason this rule was put in place for. The headmaster is between a rock and a hard place on this one and the Gov and Senator will iron this one out!

jca's avatar

what @cazzie said.

FutureMemory's avatar

I bet if they organized their own prom most of the kids would go to it rather than the official one.

bkcunningham's avatar

I think it is amazing the state legislators are involved in this. Silly. Don’t they have something better to do in Connecticut?

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, wait, it was not graffitti? I just read @cazzie answer. I must have read the article too fast.

Response moderated (Spam)
bkcunningham's avatar

“Despite mounting pressure from city officials, state lawmakers and thousands of supporters on social networking sites, Shelton High School Headmaster Beth Smith Thursday refused to reverse her decision banning senior James Tate from the June 4 senior prom.

“Tate was suspended Tuesday and banned from the prom for posting a message Friday on the school building made with cut-out letters asking friend Sonali Rodrigues to be his date.

” ‘I expected it,’ said Tate of Smith’s refusal to reconsider her decision. ‘I feel like at this point the school had nothing to gain from giving in, but I’m disappointed.’ ”

“Tate also said he agreed ‘100 percent’ with Mayor Mark A. Lauretti’s statement that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

“School officials said what Tate did posed a safety risk and that he—and two friends who helped him—had trespassed on school property. His friends also received one-day, in-house suspensions.

“Smith made a terse statement at a 4 p.m. news conference outside the school reiterating the rules on school suspensions and prom bans.

“Smith, who took no questions from the media, said students were given plenty of warning throughout the year of what the rules were and that no exceptions would be made. Students who receive a suspension after April 1 are banned from prom.

” ‘These communications are intended to remind our students and parents of the high school expectations and consequences. This unfortunate situation is a result of one of those consequences,’ Smith said in her statement.”

Read more:

WasCy's avatar

I read about it in the Hartford Courant myself. It’s the silliest type of non-issue I can imagine, and the kind that turns my stomach regarding administration of public schools.

Here are the salient points as I see them:
– He didn’t “deface” school property, from what I’ve seen. He hung a damn sign. He took it down himself afterward and cleaned up around the area, including litter that he had nothing to do with.

- Whether he should be suspended from attending the prom or not is optional, at the whim of the school administration. The policy as I read it was, “It is up to the school administration’s discretion whether students with detention may attend the prom or not.” Since he was given detention for hanging the sign, the school exercised its “discretion” (de jure discretion, nominal discretion, anyway) and decided to suspend him.

- Like petty dictators all over the world when they’re called out for a stupid decision, the silly administrators have dug in their heels and rationalized the decision to hell and gone.

YoBob's avatar

I really don’t understand the controversy here.

“Because it’s romantic” is not an excuse to paint foot high graffiti on the school walls nor does it give one immunity from the standard retribution for such an action.

Seelix's avatar

@YoBob – It wasn’t painted, although it does look like it from the photos. The letters were cut from cardboard and taped on.

YoBob's avatar

@Seelix – Hmm, that makes things a bit different as no actual defacing of school property took place. All he did was post a sign.

Beulah's avatar

Rules are rules. Tate should have done it before April 1.

JilltheTooth's avatar

To clear things up, I probably shouldn’t have said “deface” as that was apparently not the issue, but it’s what I first heard. I think the issue was the being on school property when he shouldn’t have been, which does raise liability issues. My point with this Q really is, without the “Awwww” factor, would anyone have cared? The students in CT are given a handbook at the beginning of the year that lay out the rules. Granted, few people read it, but it is provided.
I just heard on the radio that a local station is giving him and his date a really nice dinner at a good restaurant. Do they do that for every kid who breaks the rules? I doubt it. Again, I think the fuss here is about the “cute” factor.

JLeslie's avatar

@JilltheTooth The awww factor does not make a difference to me. It is more about how destructive what he did was, and whether not going to the prom is too harsh a punishment. If he had written go Spartans! Or, whatever their school mascot is, it would be the same for me.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@JLeslie : Harshness of punishment aside, statement that he made aside, as @KatawaGrey asked, what happened to the other two guys? Is anyone making a fuss over them? And the liability issue of kids on school grounds after hours is a big issue for school as well.
Whether or not he knew the rules is moot, he had access to them, and should have known them, and the students are reminded of consequences, so having a big “oh, dear” event speaks to me of knee-jerk “aww” reaction more than fairness or unfairness of punishment. The rules can be changed, it happened here about a decade ago in response to a certain amount of pressure from parents and students, went through the proper channels and was approved. (Not that rule, another one).

DominicX's avatar

“While it seems that there are rules that were broken, in this case, it doesn’t seem as though
the punishment fits the crime,” [the Governor of Connecticut] said in a statement.

So now the governor’s going to grant him clemency?

Really. Is this all we have to talk about these days in this country? I honestly don’t think it’s a big deal. At all. Let the damn kid go to prom. At this point it seems like he’s not being allowed to go to make some kind of public statement more than it is about anyone caring about “the rules”.

jca's avatar

It does seem like the school has just dug their heels in and is being stubborn, since the kid did not deface anything, what he put up can just as easily be brought down. That’s why there is a big public outcry and an internet push – because honestly it’s not a big deal what he did, yet the consequences are so harsh. It seems as if the school is being excessively Puritanical (in such a New England way).

JilltheTooth's avatar

I think it’s absurd that there’s such a fuss, also. But I do agree with their position, because of the liability issues involved. @KatawaGrey‘s school was sued about a decade ago on a very silly issue, and the cost of the defense (or settlement, maybe? I don’t really remember how it played out) came out of our tax dollars. Unfortunately, even if such cases are dismissed, there is still a cost involved, and a bunch of hoopla, all because some kids couldn’t be bothered to follow a few simple rules.

jca's avatar

@JilltheTooth: agreed, but I don’t see how this issue of the kid taping letters to the exterior of a building could have resulted in either lawsuit or excessive cost to taxpayers. Maybe an hour of a maintenance man’s time to remove it?

JilltheTooth's avatar

The case I referred to above was that of a senior who sneaked off campus during lunch, was in a car accident during that time, then sued the school saying that security should have prevented her leaving, thus preventing the car accident. As stupid as the suit was, it had to be addressed, and as I understand it, was not immediately thrown out. (I really don’t remember all the details, and searching doesn’t seem to help, as I don’t remember the exact year, sorry.) Point being, if that could result in a suit, the use of ladders after dark could be considered dangerous, and again, potential liability would be an issue. If a suit could be brought for something that happened off campus, imagine the field day that could be had with the “possibility” of harm that could come to kids climbing ladders on school property? Again, my point is that no one has insisted that the other two boys be allowed to go to prom, just James Tate, just because of the “aww” factor. If they lift the rules for him, then any excuse for trespassing could be argued, whether as a freedom of speech issue (as an occasional person is saying, now,) or some other silly reason.
Short of setting up the perimeter of the school property as one would a prison (our tax dollars at work!) the only way to prevent such actions is a punishment system that deters offenders.

cazzie's avatar

I just want to mention that this wouldn’t happen anywhere else but in the USA because of it’s broken Insurance/HealthCare/Litigious Legal system.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, please. Yank bashing over this? Give me a break.

cazzie's avatar

Not bashing Yanks. Just their systems that are broken.

YoBob's avatar

Alas @cazzie, even though I am rabidly pro American, I have to agree with you for the most part regarding our Insurance/HealthCare/Legal system. It’s not so much that the system itself that is broken, but the people who abuse it seeking only the opportunity to rake in huge sums over relatively minor incidents and/or those that use the system as a weapon against people and or institutions they would like to damage.

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