Target: Jay Foster, Superintendent of Senatobia Municipal School District in Senatobia, Mississippi
Goal: Drop charges against people accused of breaking silence to cheer at high school graduation.
At a high school graduation ceremony in Mississippi on May 21, four attendees allegedly ignored Superintendent Jay Foster’s request to hold applause until the very end. Family members of newly minted graduate Lanarcia Walker reportedly broke the silence by cheering when her name was called.
Superintendent Foster allegedly had the four people escorted from the building for not complying with the rules. But he wasn’t done. The people who cheered were served with misdemeanor charges, which include fines up to $500 and a possible prison sentence of six months.
Foster has defended his decision, telling The Clarion-Ledger that, “I did go and sign papers on them for disturbing the peace. My point is not to have somebody pay money, but I want them to know there are consequences for their behavior, and I want us to have a dignified service.”
This kind of response has no place in our public education system. While Superintendent Foster has the authority to enforce his own rules, nobody deserves to pay a fine or go to jail for showing their excitement over a high school graduation. Demand that Superintendent Foster withdraw the misdemeanor charges and apologize to Lanarcia Walker’s family.
Dear Superintendent Foster,
You recently filed misdemeanor charges against Henry Walker, Ursula Miller, and two other attendees who allegedly cheered out of turn at Senatobia High School’s graduation ceremony on May 21.
You had the authority to enforce your own rules by removing them from the building. However, your decision to press charges is both unfair and unnecessary. Legal actions have major consequences in people’s lives, and Walker’s family does not deserve to be dragged into court for simply expressing their excitement at their daughter’s success.
In short, the punishment simply does not fit the crime, because Walker’s family committed no crime. I urge you to reconsider your decision and withdraw the charges filed against members of Lanarcia Walker’s family.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Andrew Schwegler