Cheering at Graduation Leads to Arrest, Diplomas Being Withheld

PHOTO: This stock photo of a high school graduation ceremony shows girl with message on mortarboard to her parents.
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Cheering on your family and friends at graduation has become a risky proposition as schools around the country have cracked down on celebrations, withholding diplomas from students and arresting parents who "misbehave" during commencement.

In Florence, S.C., proud mother Sharon Cooper was handcuffed and escorted out of the arena where daughter Iesha Cooper was graduating from high school last Saturday. According to South Carolina news station WPDE, the school had warned parents earlier that anyone who cheered or yelled during the roll call would be escorted from the building, and that people who were disorderly while being led out would be arrested.

Cooper was taken out of the civic center and placed in handcuffs, according to the report.

"'Are you all serious? Are you all for real?' I mean, that's what I'm thinking in my mind," Cooper told WPDE."I didn't say anything. I was just like OK, I can't fight the law."

Cooper was placed in a police van and taken to a detention center for several hours before posting a $225 bond, according to the station. Cooper, who was charged with disorderly conduct, could not be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for the Florence school district, Pamela Little-McDaniel, told ABC News that because three high schools were graduating together, it was important to ensure that every parent was able to hear their child's name called. The school sent out multiple notices to all parents requesting their cooperation and warning them that cheering or yelling could get them removed by police from the ceremony.

"The school did try to communicate this information with the parent, so everyone would be able to hear the ceremony and hear their child's name get called," she said.

In Mount Healthy, Ohio, graduating senior Anthony Cornist was docked a diploma because his family and friends cheered too loudly as he walked across the stage during the graduation ceremony.

"I will be holding your diploma in the main office due to the excessive cheering your guests displayed during the Roll Call," read a letter from the school principal, according to ABC News affiliate WCPO. The letter also demanded Cornist or his family members complete 20 hours of community service in order to receive his diploma.

"It's crazy how someone can do that to you," said Cornist. "I didn't do nothing wrong, but walk across the stage."

Cornist's upset mother said that teachers, other students as well as other families were cheering for her son. "I don't understand how he is being punished for something he has no control over. He's definitely not doing the community service."

Administrators from Mount Healthy high school and the school district did not return calls for comment. Cornist was not able to be reached for comment.

In Tennessee, diplomas were withheld from at least 10 members of a graduating high school class not for cheering loudly, but for sitting quietly, albeit with loudly-decorated graduation caps.

"We're going to decorate our caps anyway because we paid for them," senior Brianna Carroll told news station WRCB in reaction to her high school's ban on cap decorations.

Administrators from McMinn County High School warned students that caps were not to be decorated, and students would be punished if the broke the rule.

"He goes, 'remember I have your diploma, I have the trump card'," Carroll told WRCB about her school superintendent, David Pierce.

Carroll and other students were punished with 20 hours of community service in order to receive their diplomas.

John Burroughs, principal of the school, told ABC News that the ban came from the superintendent.

"It ended up being about 10 individuals out of a class of over 325, and we did offer all of these students alternatives prior to the ceremony," he said.

Pierce, the district superintendent, did not return calls for comment.

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