A high school headmaster won't budge from her decision to bar a senior from prom after he asked a girl to the dance by posting an invitation in big cardboard letters on the side of the school.
Shelton High School headmaster Beth Smith said Thursday that James Tate's punishment is the result of a well-publicized policy outlining consequences for anyone getting into trouble at school after April 1.
"This regulation is reinforced over the course of the spring," Smith told reporters in a brief statement at the school. "This unfortunate situation is the result of one of those consequences."
Tate and two friends made an early morning visit to the school last week and posted 12-inch-tall cardboard letters outside the main entrance, where everyone would see them when arriving for school the next morning.
The message said: "Sonali Rodrigues, Will you go to the prom with me? HMU -Tate." HMU means hit me up, or call me.
Rodrigues said yes. But Tate and his two friends were given one-day in-house suspensions by Smith and were barred from the June 4 prom in Shelton, a city of about 40,000 residents 45 miles southwest of Hartford.
Tate was told posting the message constituted trespassing and posed a safety risk. He has offered to do community service, such as picking up litter on school grounds, but school officials won't consider that.
Tate's plight has made him a cause celebre and has prompted appearances on talk shows including NBC's "Today" show and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
"Me and Sonali are good people, and we should have been able to attend the prom together," Tate told the "Today" show.
A Facebook page set up to encourage school officials to let Tate go to the prom had more than 130,000 likes on Thursday afternoon.
Republican state Reps. Jason Perillo, of Shelton, and Sean Williams, of nearby Waterbury, said they would introduce legislation that would force schools to let students do community service for policy violations within the last month of the school year. The bill to which their amendment would be attached didn't come up for a vote Thursday.