Thursday, May 12, 2011

Should James Tate Be Allowed To Go To His Prom? . . .


Have you caught the story about Shelton, CT high school senior James Tate? He's the kid who posted some foot-tall cardboard letters on the wall near the school's entrance. The letters spelled out a prom invitation to a fellow student: "Sonali Rodrigues, Will you go to the prom with me? HMU -Tate." No profanity. No paint. Just a little old-fashioned creativity and fun.

But school officials didn't like what Tate did. It seems they called him into the office and told him he had earned a one-day in-school suspension for trespassing, and that since he was suspended after April 1, he wouldn't be allowed to attend his prom.

Now, word is spreading far and wide about Tate and his punishment, and lots of people are lobbying for Tate to be able to attend his prom. There's even a Facebook page that's been set up to support Tate and see the school's decision reversed.. As of this moment, over 100,000 people have "liked" the page.

I understand that schools need rules. In today's world, it's a sad fact that schools need even more rules because fewer and fewer parents are making and enforcing rules. When we don't step up and take responsibility for ourselves, more rules are needed. But have we gone overboard with all this "no tolerance" stuff that issues immediate consequences without individual consideration or grace? You know, the kind of thing that happens when kindergarten kid gets suspended for having an aspirin in his backpack.

So. . . here's the question at hand: Should James Tate be allowed to go to his prom? What do you think?

10 comments:

rebecca said...

right on, walt. i think this guy was guilty of being sweet and affectionate and courageous...not to mention the true effort it took to pull off his plan. i admire the kid. i think the schoolmaster missed the point entirely. instead of using tate's extra energy and creative juices to benefit the school, the school now has to expend extra energy to clean up it's own pr mess.

rob said...

Since this was NOT an act of malicious vandalism, I believe grace should prevail in this situation. Based on another article I read, this teen is remorse and is accepting of the consequences of his actions. Secondly, in lieu being banned from prom, he has tried to negotiate serving his punishment my through more tangible ways that are beneficial to the school. Either way, I think this young man has learned his lesson and will remember this for a lifetime.

Meredith Dahl said...

Have him do some community service around the school for the "trespassing," but love his creativity! I say- let him go to Prom!

although there are always two sides.... I guess there could be some background info we do not know (previous problems of trespassing, difficulties at school, etc.) who knows?

Great question!

Josh Z. said...

Hi Walt!

Some of our Youth group kids were talking about this, and how they signed the petition. All I know is that if I were a part of that school board, hearing that there were 100,000 facebook-ers voicing their opinions would definitely make me want to stick to my guns more than ever! Mark Zuckerberg cannot win the day!

Matt Murphy said...

Considering the extreme effort he went through to NOT vandalize the school with spray paint, but used other creative means to get his message out. That was good. I would err on the side of grace, perhaps have this kid help pick up after prom if its in the school or sweep halls for a week after school.

This is too much of a 'nanny state' rule. I agree there should have been some form of consequences because the school janitors probably had to clean it up. He's accepted responsibility, offered other ideas to serve as punishment.

Sometimes a little sense of humor can go a long way to fixing problems like these.

Mr John said...

Your kidding me, is this school and its administrators SERIOUS? James Tate should be allowed to attend his prom and the school administrators should publicly apologize to him, pay for his way to the prom and exempt him from his tests. James Tate shows he has more intelligence than they do.

KathyH said...

It's still a very romantic story, and I'm glad he's getting his 15 minutes of fame for it!

Christian said...

I agree that schools need to show some individual grace. I saw his interviews. He doesn't seem like a bad kid, and he actually seems to understand that what he did was kinda dumb. Schools have made some over exaggerated rules because parents aren't parenting, but they will sue if their child is treated unfairly.
But my question is, did he trespass? If there really is a rule in the student handbook stating that being on campus after hours is trespassing, then the school is right in suspending him.
And why are we so up in arms about a kid going to prom? Just looking at how the world has reacted, what if 100,000 people actually got behind something that had some actual benefit? And from a Christian perspective, does James Tate know Jesus? Shouldn't that be our main concern? Not whether or not he gets to go to prom? Which he probably won't be talking or even thinking about in 10 years?
To sum things up, we can't really make a judgment call without knowing the school's policy; it's silly for people all around the world to be making judgment calls on this; people all around the world are dying because of diarrhea, let's put our energy into something worthwhile.

Keri said...

I've never been a fan of "zero tolerance" policies. We put educated, administrators in the principals office to make appropriate decisions on a case-by-case basis.

annie said...

Walt, I think Christian just "Jesus Juked" us...