Superintendent Defends Criminal Charges Against Graduation Attendees

Superintendent Jay Foster is standing by his decision to file criminal charges against four attendees who cheered for their relatives at Senatobia High School’s graduation ceremony.

“The goal was to allow all graduates to have the privilege of hearing their name called,” Foster told CNN.

Foster (pictured above) said that he told attendees ahead of time to refrain from cheering, and included the warning in the event program as well.

He told CNN that when he began as superintendent five years ago, the graduation was not “conducted in a manner we were happy with.” He then decided to set about changing that, implementing the no-cheering rule. And last year, Foster said Senatobia High School had “the best ceremony we’ve ever had.”

“We want everyone to see their own loved ones graduate and hear their names called,” Foster said. “When people disrupt that, it takes away from the students and their families.”

After four individuals cheered for graduates at Senatobia High School’s graduation ceremony, they were asked to leave by police at Northwest Mississippi Community College, where the ceremony was held.

A few days after the ceremony, those individuals were charged with disturbing the peace.

Foster filed an affidavit with the county Justice Court, which subsequently issued arrest warrants, the police and the court clerk told TPM.

One of the individuals charged, Ursula Miller, told WREG that she called out her niece’s name as she walked across the stage.

“When she went across the stage I just called her name out. ‘Lakaydra’. Just like that,” Miller said.

According to an affidavit obtained by the New York Times, Miller was charged for “yelling and clapping while inside the building after announcement had been made for all to hold their applause and celebrating until after the end of the ceremony.”

The affidavit said the noise made by Miller was “against the peace and dignity of the State of Mississippi,” according to the Times.

Henry Walker was also charged with disturbing the peace after yelling when Lanarcia Walker graduated.

“It’s crazy,” he told WREG. “The fact that I might have to bond out of jail, pay court costs, or a $500 fine for expressing my love, it’s ridiculous man. It’s ridiculous.”

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