School Committee will ask State to Change Law Restricting Father-Daughter Dances

The School Committee will meet on Monday to discuss the issue.

The Cranston School Committee will take up the issue of father-daughter dances on Monday in an effort to preserve the tradition.

School Committee Chairwoman Andrea Iannazzi said the committee will consider a resolution that would ask state leaders to change state law to mirror federal law. The change would let schools hold "traditional yet inclusive events," she said.

It would mean the city would have to name dances a little differently, much like other school districts around the state have been doing for years. Instead of a father-daughter's dance, the dance would be called something like "ladies choice," which allows young girls to choose any adult figure to come to the dance with them.

The dances were banned earlier this year after the ACLU contacted the school district with concerns about the practice. A parent had complained to the ACLU after her daughter reportedly was unable to attend a father-daughter dance.

The ban sparked outrage among many parents and the story has since become national news.

It turns out that the father-daughter dances haven't been such the tradition that some people claim. The district had not hosted any such dances for almost a decade until about two years ago, when they were resurrected in an effort to drum up school spirit and participation.

The ban officially went into effect four months ago, which is when the ACLU and school officials wrapped up their discussions.

Read more of our coverage about the issue:

Updated: After ACLU Complaint, Father-Daughter Dances No More in Cranston

ACLU: Not Every Girl wants to be Cinderella

Mayor: "Utterly Disappointed" with Father-Daughter Dance Ban

jeff September 19, 2012 at 03:25 PM
It is incomprehensible to me that an entire community of people in Rhode Island would be forced to give into the demands of the ACLU because of the complaints of a mother who simply appears to be incapable of responsible parenting. A responsible parent would first find an alternative to a "father", or secondly ask if she could accompany her daughter given that there was no father or father figure available, or finally if unfortunetly that failed, sit down with her daughter and explain to her the fact that life isn't always fair, a reality that is true for everyone in our society! Might this mother simply explain that missing this dance isn't fatal, that there are traditions in our society that are bigger than the individual and should be respected as such? Maybe instead of going to the father daughter dance she and her daughter could go to a gallery or a play or museum, instead spending some quality time together. But for a member of a cohesive community to instead engage the ACLU and file suit against her school, her community and alienate themselves from that community is the worst of what our country has become, in some cases a lawsuit happy, PC bunch of cowards who in this case choose not to act like a responsible parent but to hide behind the ACLU. What kind of message is this woman sending her daughter going forward? If you can 't deal with life's realities then sue them? This can't be the way the good people of Cranston want their children to behave.
David Englund September 19, 2012 at 10:26 PM
All I see is a girl who doesn't have a father or an adult male figure in her life, so her mother decides to "level the playing field" by denying other girls that have. It's a very short-sighted decision she embarked on, and a huge disappointment for most.
Beth September 20, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I live in Cranston and my daughters school already calls the dance a Ladies Choice dance. The parents of this city will be at that meeting on Monday night. This is no longer just a dance issue. The issue is now if you kick and scream loud enough and involve the ACLU then you can get your way. That is not a message I want to send to my daughter....however I will bring her to the meeting MOnday and show her that when you belive in something enough you can make a difference and fight for what you believe in. In a generation where all our children do is use electronics because we are afraid to let them go outside and play alone in the neighborhood the city is now taking one of the few traditions away from them. It is a complete outrage.
Alisa Omert September 20, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I honestly cannot believe that some are blaming one parent for this. There are many that feel the same way but do not come forward because of the fear of being verbally shot down by traditionalist (feelings I have heard during our well attended PTA meetings and other social situations). What is even more outrageous is the amount of time and emotional energy going into this. Major Fung should be ashamed of himself. We have teachers that need basic school supplies, programs are cut etc. ... and we are arguing about a law that is already in place? Let's put our energy into something more worthwhile like improving the education in our Cranston Schools. We have a great new superintendent that has more important things on her plate.
David Englund September 20, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Alisa, you seem to forget that the Father Daughter dance is a family tradition that helps build a little girl's character for the long run, the school supply shortage has a plan in place: parents have been asked to help buy supplies when we go shopping - we just bought clean wipes and crayons for my son's class yesterday - we ARE doing what we can, we ARE pushed to the limit and the ACLU just created another battle for us to fight, and there's a lot of fight left in me and in thousands of parents in Cranston. As far as your last point; If I had the choice to improve education in the schools or improve the education I can impart on my child (through fighting for what I believe in and keeping a tradition alive - I'll ALWAYS choose the latter!
scot saucier September 20, 2012 at 03:18 PM
When i moved back to Rhode Island ( mistake) my daughters school had a father daughter dance the same day instead i took her to a movie, we cherish that moment always.
Rtc September 20, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Ship Steve Brown & the ACLU to another city---why are we wasting tax dollars on this crap when it could be used for another purpose,sports,band & other activities. I going to call the ACLU & tell them the city ,state & federal gov are forcing me to work(63yrs old) & pay taxes for some lazy SOB"s to sit home & do nothing but collect welfare. I'll bet my last buck they won't take that case------WHY? NO MONEY & NO ATTENTION IN IT FOR THEM. To the ACLU----U SUCK!
Beth September 20, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Alisa, As parents we donate supplies to our teachers all year long, as parents we also pay for the tickets for our daughters to go to this dance. And yes this event is a tradition. There are not many of those left. I dont consider myself a tradionalist in any way, I am divorced single mother who worked very hard at making sure my daughter kept a healthy relationship with her father. This may not be important to you but it is important to a very large group of Cranston parents. And just like that one parent was able to voice her opinion so are we.
mcam September 20, 2012 at 06:32 PM
and you had a choice, to go or not to go.
Bill Santagata September 21, 2012 at 10:05 AM
Again, as I've explained a million times: The ACLU does not write the laws. No one is above the law, and no governmental body is above the law. RI state law (passed by the General Assembly) prohibits these kinds of activities. I fully support changing the law in the way it is described here. The point is, the law must be *changed* not *ignored.*
Bill Santagata September 21, 2012 at 10:10 AM
And there are also many taxpayers who don't believe we should be giving as much money to the military as we do either. But you don't have a civil right to demand that your tax dollars be earmarked to go to only things you approve of. The ACLU doesn't write the laws; they provide legal support for people who have been slighted by governmental bodies violating laws. If you disagree with the law, then you can advocate to change it, which people are doing here and will be done at Monday's meeting. I fully support this. What I don't support is people advocating the position that we (or the government) should just ignore and flout laws we don't like.
SC3 September 21, 2012 at 12:13 PM
YES!!!! The dances have not been called "Father Daughter" for years!!!!! This is being falsely reported!!!! It's just a special event for the girls, and a separate special event for the boys! With over 400 students at some schools, separate events are a necessity! Not to mention, we surveyed familes as to what the CHILDREN would like!!! Girls wanted a dance, boys did not!!!!
SC3 September 21, 2012 at 12:59 PM
You still did something special with her, and you made a memory! This dance is a soecial memory for many girls! I grew up with brothers and my school dance was my one night alone with my dad. We could have done something on our own, but that would have meant purposely leaving my brothers out.... this night was the perfect chance for me to have my dad to myself, without feeling guilty about my brothers not coming. I cherish those memories, .... it was a special night for me and thats what we hope to provide for our kids! Who they take doesnt matter ... it's the memory they create that lasts forever!!!!
UGHHH September 24, 2012 at 02:40 PM
If the dances haven't been called father /daughter for years then What's the issue???? Because last year they did make it exclusive. Also ACLU didn't make the law. The law is a State law that should be followed. We should be teaching our children to follow the law and do what's right. Non -discriminating activities. You should teach your daughters and sons that the RI law is accurate and doesn't eliminate any sexes. Students shouldn't be shunned from a public school event! All of you who are for changing the law and cranston alike are WRONG WRONG WRONG. This mom never said to cancel the dance. She just wanted to simply go to it without her daughter feeling singled out and ostricized with fingers pointing that she's the ONLY one there with no father figure. Schools should be comprehensive and include all....You guys need to get your head out of your you know what and do the right thing. Aggrivated single mom ___
UGHHH September 24, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I agree and if you wanted to privately do a special day with your daughter great! But you shouldn't feel like you have to by the puclic school district. The school district shouldn't tell you that if your home sick that your wife/whomever CAN"T /ISN"T INVITED to take your daugther....that would be a crime....IT is a crime according to state law! :)
UGHHH September 24, 2012 at 02:45 PM
You can still continue the tradition with a "Students choice Dance" I have attended both and you can't tell one from the other with the exception that it doesn't discriminate against other sexes!!! I am all for inclusion NOT exclusion....((Get with the program guys))
UGHHH September 24, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Thank you Alisa!!! (This was a state law that supports Non-Exclusionary events) Not a disgruntled parent that cried to the ACLU. There is a huge difference. Thank you Alisa
Shelley A. Mcgowan-Fusco September 24, 2012 at 03:02 PM
again, the mom was told from the beginning that she could attend with her daughter - the invite went out again saying any adult may go and if there were any questions or concerns as to whom your daughter could attend the dance with to call the pto president at the time and her phone number was listed - this mother wanted a "family dance" because she herself wanted to attend a dance - she didnt feel that was good enough that she was told that she could attend and therefor went to the aclu - it was never called a father/daughter dance, it was a Me and My guy dance. The girl did in fact attend the dance with a male chaperone and had a wonderful time! I feel discriminated against that my family has a "mother/father" unit in the family and that my children will never be able to have a Father/Daughter, Mother/Son event - how is this fair for my children, I am a married parent who would like to see these events still happening because this is the life that my husband and I chose
David Englund September 24, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Great point Shelly, as a father I feel a great responsibility to be a role model for my daughter as her "first male date ever"!!!! It's sad that main street America gets prejudiced against because we're not the minority. My daughter now thinks it's illegal to dance with her daddy at school! - I know this isn't accurate, she's only 7 years old, but look what this has turned into.
Mark Schieldrop (Editor) September 24, 2012 at 05:10 PM
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