James Tate will not be going to his senior prom, despite a national swell of support.
This afternoon, Headmaster Beth Smith issued a statement basically saying the school would not change its mind about the punishment for this action that has gotten national attention.
This all started with Tate and his friends going to school at 1 a.m. on Friday and taping cardboard letters onto the wall of the school saying: “Sonali Rodrigues will you go to prom with me? HMU – Tate.”
Sonali said yes. James was called into the headmaster's office.
He thought he might be reprimanded and be told to remove the letters, but what actually happened was worse. He and his friends got an in-school suspension for trespassing and be banned from prom.
Tate was in New York on Thursday morning, appearing on the “Today Show” to share his story and make a national plea to be able to go.
Today is the last day to buy a ticket to prom, Sonali said, and now she's not sure what she's going to do since her date cannot go.
"I'm hoping they will reverse their decision so I don't have to go by myself," Sonali said.
“Me and Sonali are good people and we should have been able to attend the prom together,” James said.
Sonali spoke to Lauer from Shelton and said she though James’ prom invite was sweet.
“I never ever thought he’d get in trouble, so when he actually told me he was suspended, I thought he was joking,” Sonali said. “He usually tends to do things like that.”
“I feel like it would have been more appropriate to make me clean up the letters or spend a weekend there cleaning up trash outside the school, mopping the floors … maybe a week of detention, just so I don’t miss my prom,” James said.
The story has gotten attention across the country and beyond.
In the midst of budget negotiations, even the governor has weighed in on it.
"While it seems that there are rules that were broken, in this case, it doesn’t seem as though the punishment fits the crime," Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement.
Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti heard about the issue while he was at a conference in Dallas, in his hotel room and watching CNN. He said Smith, headmaster of Shelton High School, has to make the decision on the prom and get support from the school board.
"If someone commits an issue on March 30tg, let’s say they’re suspended for rape, difficult crime, they’re still eligible to go to the prom. See anything wrong with that picture?," he said."There have been a number of kids that have been suspended, and rightfully so, over the course of the year, that are going to the prom. So, I think there are some inconsistencies in the regulation that we need to review."
The said there are more inmportant issues to focus on and it's unfortunate that this has evolved.
“I am amazed at the attention this story is getting,” commented Mayor Lauretti. “When you understand the issues teens are dealing with across the country such as teen pregnancy, substance abuse, obesity, suicide and even pressure to get better test scores, one has to think the Internet and social media craze have blown up this incident to be much larger than it would have been otherwise.”
Neither of them expected the kind of publicity they have gotten.
" I’m just shocked that it spread so fast and people are so interested in it. I never thought Shelton would get on the map this way," Sonali said.