WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama plans to speak at a high school graduation next month in Topeka, Kansas, but not everyone’s happy about it, as some families have voiced concerns that her presence could limit seating and take attention away from the graduates themselves.
The school district responded to some of that criticism today, pledging “at least six tickets” for each graduate’s family members.
“This will be a once in a lifetime experience for our graduates and their families, and we are looking forward to making it a very special time for everyone,” Topeka Public Schools said in a press release, pointing out that it invited Obama to speak there.
The first lady is scheduled to speak at the May 17 combined graduation ceremony for four area high schools — a new arrangement, the school district says, as they usually have individual ceremonies — to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Filed against the Topeka school board, that suit ended racial segregation in public schools on May 18, 1954.
The first lady’s press office has not responded to a request for comment on the criticism.
The school district tells ABC most of the response has been positive, and that critics’ main concerns have to do with seating and changing the time of day for schools’ ceremonies to combine them — although a few have called because they just don’t like the first lady, or the president.
The ceremony, for 800 graduates, will be held in a local expo center that holds up to 10,000 for concerts and sporting events, according to its website. Capacity could change if Secret Service imposes security restrictions on the seating arrangements, the school district suggested.