Politics Fuels Father-Daughter Dance Ban Controversy

As the School Committee meets tonight to discuss the policy, GOP leaders are urging residents to show up to tell them to "stand up for you, not the ACLU."

The father-daughter dance ban in Cranston isn't just a hot local topic — it's being used as a political talking point in the run-up to the election.

Tonight, the School Committee is set to discuss the policy banning gender-specific events and could pass a resolution that would ask the local delegation in the State House to consider legislation that would modify state law and allow father/daughter and mother/son events as long as "there are comparable events for each gender."

In advance of the meeting, a mailing urging residents to go to tonight's meeting was sent to many residents by the Cranston Republican City Committee. In it, partial quotes in local media reports highlight Democrat School Committee members apparently defending the district's response to a letter from the ACLU on behalf of a mother who complained about a gender-specific event. After the ACLU letter, Superintendent Judith Lundsten sent out a memo instructing school leaders to make sure event planning was inclusive.

"Tell these School Committee members to STAND UP for you, not the ACLU," the mailing proclaims above a list of the phone numbers of School Committee members Andrea Iannazzi, Frank Lombardi, Stephanie Culhane and Janice Ruggieri. "Even Congressman David Cicilline, a former ACLU lawyer, calls the ban 'crazy.'"

Lombardi is competing against Republican Sean Gately for the House Dist. 26 seat and has been repeatedly attacked by Gately on the issue. In a recent press release, Gately said the School Committee "had months" to resolve this problem but "instead Frank Lombardi and his team decided to cave to the will of the ACLU."

In reality, the School Committee played no role in Lundsten's decision to ban gender-specific events. The issue with the ACLU was resolved more than four months ago and the ban only became active in the news cycle after Gately hammered on the issue.

Now that the committee could be asking the General Assembly for a change in laws, Gately said they're just "following my lead."

Gately said he has arranged for draft legislation to be prepared by a volunteer lawyer already and secured the support of GOP House and Senate leaders to submit legislation allowing father-daughter dances.

"They can just append their names to my submission," he said. "The one that has already been approved by General Assembly leadership."

Patch will be live blogging from the meeting tonight. Stay tuned.

Boston September 24, 2012 at 05:37 PM
this has gotten waaay out of hand....
Sean P Gately September 24, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Mark, The reality of the issue is that 4 months ago the School Committee could have passed this resolution and have asked the GA implement the Title 9 fix before they recessed last June. Instead they decided to take no action and let this policy go into play with no statement from any of them. Once it became public it went from supporting the Superintendent to blaming the superintendent, to we are helpless to now we will pass this resolution. It was a flat out abdication of duty as citizens and elected official.The only people hurt by this are the Parents in Children in the district. Respectfully Sean Gately
TruthHonorValor September 24, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Wow, Sean Gately. You are delusional. You actually expect the voters in Cranston to believe that you care about the kids! Where were you when the mayor trashed the schools and then tried to establish a "Salvation" school in the form of a charter school. That was wrong too, but you didn't comment on that, did you? Of course not. You are in the mayor's party, and it wasn't election season back then, so why do the right thing? The dog would not want to upset his master. This is so obviously a political stunt! When I got your "mailing", I noticed that it doesn't mention the School Committee members in your party? Why is that Sean? You cut and pasted parts of quotes to suit your needs, because the truth would not help you, only lies would help you. Nobody is following your lead on this issue. I don't think any sane person would follow your lead on anything. As I mentioned before, I considered voting for you. Now that your true colors as a liar and egocentric fool have been shown, I would encourage any thinking person in Cranston to dump Sean Gately as quick as they can. It is pathetic that the only way you and your kind can get people to vote for you is to lie and create scapegoats as a focus for people to hate. Hmmm...
TruthHonorValor September 24, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Sean forgets that it is the STATE LEGISLATURE that passes laws. He wants to be one of them, and yet this fact seems to escape him.
Anglea September 24, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Another case of a bitter person's agenda taking precesedence over the wishes of the majority. Once more Cranston bends to the will of the leftist agenda ACLU, promoting anti-American causes for decades.
Janice Ruggieri September 24, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Mark --- I am not a Democrat. I am an unaffiliated voter. I do not want to be involved in any party war on this or any other issue. The School Committee seat is supposed to be a nonpartisan one. That seems to have slipped the minds of some people running for this office. I don't want any more misinformation being spread. Thanks Janice Ruggieri School Committee Ward 4/5
Janice Ruggieri September 24, 2012 at 07:19 PM
The Republican City Committee should be ashamed of themselves for allowing such a piece of propganda to have their name on it. I could take quotes from people and cut and paste them to say what I wanted to say, but is that how you want your party represented? I guess the fact that they neglect to mention anywhere in articles and posts that this is in fact a State Law issue not an ACLU issue means they do not want to give people the factual information about this issue. Rather, they want to make this a political issue.
Bill Santagata September 24, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Mr. Gately does have a point. He is not saying that the School Committee has the power to change the law. He is saying that they were made aware of this issue a long time ago and could have petitioned the General Assembly to change the law (what they are doing tonight) before their June recess.
Bill Santagata September 24, 2012 at 08:21 PM
The ACLU does not write the laws. I support this resolution to petition for a change in the law, but the fact is that the law must be changed. Neither people nor governmental bodies such as School Committees can pick and choose which laws they wish to follow.
Bill Santagata September 24, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I agree. The quotes on the flyer are statements by school committee members stating that they are in favor of following the law (until it is changed), as is their duty. The context that the flyer presents them in makes it seem like they personally agree with the law itself.
Stephanie Giangrande Culhane September 24, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I am an Unaffiliated voter. In fact, despite what Mayor Fung and the Republican City Committee would have you believe, the Cranston School Committee is "NON PARTISAN". That is not to say that no one on the committee is unregistered, as some are. By Charter, the School Committee is non partisan so as to avoid having politics enter the public schools. It is sad that Mayor Fung, the Republican City Committee and Mr. Gately have chosen to ignore both the Cranston City Charter and RI General Law. Mayor Fung should know better, as he took a sworn oath to defend and uphold both. Mr. Gately, a candidate for state office, is clearly ignorant to both! To Mr. Gately, not one person on the Cranston School Committee has ever once "blamed " the superintendent for anything. On the contrary, we have been supportive of her actions. Both you and your campaign have been so full of vitriol and negativity, I would never lower myself to sign my name onto anything that you have proposed or written! Stephanie Culhane, Cranston School Committee, Ward 2
Sean P Gately September 24, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Give me a break September 24, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Does the Republican City Committee really want to align with Cicilline on ANY issue. If this is Gately's platform it may be time for myself and others to rethink who is going to get this City and State out of this economic ditch we're in. Obviously he's too busy organizing little girl dances to focus on anything else.
Morgan Malone September 24, 2012 at 10:32 PM
I'm surprised that Mr. Gately has garnered so much attention for this issue. Both Mr. Gatley's and Mr. Fung's positions appear to grossly exaggerate the facts behind the issue. Claiming that a dance that has been held twice consecutively over the last decade is a "time honored tradition" is weak at best. Mr. Gately has shamefully dragged the City of Cranston, and the State of Rhode Island back into the national spotlight in a very obvious effort to further his own political aspirations. How embarrassing.
Sox September 25, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Sean Gately is a self-aggrandizing jerk. His attempt to politicize this for his own gain is disgusting and not what we need representing us in the General Assembly. He has no history here and for some reason thinks he actually matters. In fact, after seeing this clown running around Scituate Ave in the pouring rain a few weeks back, interrupting Sunday afternoon family time throughout Western Cranston, I've decided not to vote for him. Plus he slaps his ugly mug on the side of a bus on election day which is just pathetic.
nicole fine September 25, 2012 at 08:37 PM
How much of this issue could have been avoided, or at least kept to a dull roar if school committee members were actually in their schools and communicating with their families? I know there are certain members who are active and supportive of the people who elected them, but the MAJORITY of school committee members only come around at election time. And, then, sometimes not even. For the most part, I am referring to the members who "serve" (I use that term beyond loosely) in the odd numbered wards especially. If people knew who their committee members, felt there was actually a concern for their schools, students and programs, maybe people wouldn't get so angry all the time. You are elected to serve, please do so!!
Sean P Gately September 26, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Dear Sox & TruthHonorValor Thank you for your anonymous posts. Just some history. I was born and raised in Cranston. I went to CJCR and graduated from Cranston East. I have been a board member and volunteer for Looking Glass Theater, BASICS as well as President of the volunteer neighborhood organization that stopped the concrete plant from being built here in Western Cranston at no cost to the taxpayers. My daughter was baptized at Holy Apostles my son at St. Marks, the same church I was baptized in. You are correct that you saw me walking in the rain. That is because I am dedicated to this community, this city and this state.I will walk in the heat, the snow and the rain to do the right thing. Unfortunately I will not spend $75k for a part time job that pays $14K like my opponent. I do not throw $7k parties for myself with my donors money like my opponent. I do not take PAC money from organized labor that I "Negotiated" contracts with like my opponent. I do not take campaign donations from lawyers that we paid over $210K with taxpayer money for bad political and legal advice like my opponent. I am not running for office because I want to be appointed a judge or run for Mayor in a few years. I did not waste over $700,000.00 of taxpayer money on losing three legal actions like my opponent. I did not cut music, sports, gifted programs and left the school system $6.4 million in debt like my opponent. I am running for office because I want to do the right thing.
TruthHonorValor September 27, 2012 at 01:43 PM
That is all fine and well, Mr. Gately. You have done some nice things and have some skills. That does not negate the fact that you and your puppet master distributed a flyer to the public that was designed to incite anger and discontent through the use of lies and mis-quotes. As a board member or volunteer of BASICS, you would have us believe that you have the public's best interests in mind, when all the while you are manipulating them into misperceptions through the use of falsehoods. And when your pathetic little ploy became an epic fail, you congratulated those whom you were attacking a few days earlier.
TruthHonorValor September 27, 2012 at 02:02 PM
The bottom line is that you have betrayed your own honor, the voters trust and the wellbeing of the party with your little stunt. You went along with the designs of the mayor, and tried to dupe the public. You LIED to them. You misrepresented the truth. You still place the blame on others for the sins of the Mayor! You are so aligned with the party dogma that you have failed to think independently and as a leader! Yours are the actions of a bully. Have you done nice things? Yes. Did you try to present yourself in a good light? Who wouldn't? But you did so at the expense of others. You would BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBORS with the intenst of political gain. Did your Christianity end at baptism? Perhaps if you humbly ask the forgiveness of those you have wronged and convinced the voters that you are a real leader, you might be able to re-acquire your honor and their trust. As for me, I will be leaving the Republican Party because of this foolishness. The party has betrayed the honor of their membership. I urge anybody else who thinks independently for the good of the whole to do the same.


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