According to an Associated Press (AP) report on CBSNews.com, although sustained loud cheering for graduates at high school commencement ceremonies has long been a mainstay, schools are beginning to crack down harder on excessive cheering. In one case, a cheering mom was led off in handcuffs. In another, four grads were denied their diplomas because friends hooted too loudly.
But how far is too far in cracking down on guests at graduation ceremonies? And can a high school or college really punish a graduate for his or her misbehaving loved ones? The law differs from state to state, and policies from school to school, said Ken Griffith, president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Many high schools and colleges dole out empty diploma holders as a deterrent, forcing seniors to collect the real thing after commencement is over. At other schools, officials have taken more unusual steps. At Iesha Cooper’s graduation at South Florence High School in South Carolina, her mom, Shannon Cooper, whooped it up and was led out in handcuffs on a disorderly conduct charge that cost her $225 bond and several hours in custody.
Four seniors at a suburban Cincinnati high school were denied their sheepskins because of “excessive cheering” by their guests. The principal told them they would have to perform 20 hours of community service in exchange for their diplomas due to the behavior of their friends and family, though they were not denied access to their transcripts and are technically graduates.
Nothing about that makes sense to Traci Cornist, mom of one of the Mt. Healthy Four, 19-year-old Anthony Cornist. “It took away so much from how happy I was,” she told Cincinnati radio station WDBZ. While Cornist is considering legal action, school officials defend rules on cheering as fair so all graduates can be recognized, and necessary to keep lengthy commencements commencing.
“They have indeed worked hard,” Griffith said of the graduates. “And because of that hard work people should respect the ceremony, they should respect the classmates, they should respect people around them. Celebrate later. Celebrate all you want. Later.”
Source: CBSNews.com, 6/11/12, By AP, Dan Sewell contributor
[Editor's Note: On June 5, 2012, Sevil Omer of MSNBC reported on the handcuffed mom. Florence Police Chief Anson Shells said people attending the ceremony had been warned to behave during commencement ceremonies. If they failed to do so, they would be escorted out, he said. “The school district made an announcement and sent out letters to all of the parents for everyone to be as orderly as they can during the ceremony and so on and so forth,” Shells said. “That was the rule.”
Meanwhile on June 13, 2012, AP's Dane Sewell reported in the Columbus Dispatch on the four Cincinnati high school graduates who had their diplomas withheld, and were being required to perform community service as punishment for what was described as overly boisterous cheering by their families during the graduation ceremony. School Superintendent Lori Handler said the problem was not the loudness of the yells but their duration, which she said halted the ceremony. After past disruptions, a new policy was implemented this year to make sure that all parents can hear their children’s names called and celebrated. When they ordered graduation tickets, parents agreed that “any disruptive behavior” would result in their child’s diploma being held until 20 hours of community service were completed, she said.]