The book is closed—sort of—on The Great Prom Date Debate. More reasonable heads have prevailed and Shelton High School Student and national romantic role model James Tate will get to go to his prom. Yes, it took national attention including multiple appearances on the “Today” show, and on Jimmy Kimmel’s show among others, comments from US Sen. Richard Blumenthal, threatened legislation by Republican legislators and general mocking of almighty SHS “Headmaster” Beth Smith by people across the county for it to happen, but James gets to go to the prom with Sonali.
Besides the offers of free makeovers, limo rides, flowers, bands, etc., what’s left of this compelling story is that Shelton High School is still stuck with a “Headmaster” who seems absolutely obsessed with her authority. A week after reading a seemingly painstakingly prepared statement declaring that her word was final and that James knew of the consequences of his actions, Smith folded like she had a pair of deuces.
Before doing so, however, Smith managed to work “I” into the first paragraph of her statement: “Throughout the past week the level of distraction created by this incident has affected the culture of Shelton High School, one that I have worked hard to establish…In an effort to maintain a focus on teaching and learning, I have decided to implement alternate consequences on a case-by-case basis, beginning with James Tate.”
Yeah, it was all your decision, “Headmaster.” The multiple Facebook pages, twitter mentions and the fact that James was ABC World News Tonight’s “Person of the Week” had nothing to do it. You made a boneheaded, ridiculous call in this situation, tried to strong-arm your way into sticking to your guns and then had to retreat. You look silly.
I hope James has a great time at his prom—and I feel the pain of every Shelton High School student and parent who has to deal with “Headmaster” Smith.
For what I’s worth, I heard from state Rep. Sean Williams, one of the legislators I skewered for saying he would file legislation so James could go to the prom (sorry, “go to prom”). I accused him and others of trying to get some media face and ink time at the expense of his “local control of education” and “less government” Republican mantra. It seems Williams actually turned down some offer of national media appearances. So he gets a mulligan from The Shad on this one, although I still think it was a dopey move on his part if only for appearances sake. Say this for Williams: He doesn’t run and hide in the face of criticism. In fact, he sought me out to explain. Political views aside, the guy’s going places. Maybe he can take “Headmaster” Smith with him.
And finally, James is headed to Syracuse University where I spent four incredible years. However, going by Shelton rules, I probably would have been suspended a couple of times a week for various antics. Orange beware of James.