Of­fi­cial keeps mum on whether he will drop grad­u­a­tion charges


The Mis­sis­sippi school su­per­in­ten­dent who pressed charges against peo­ple for cheer­ing at a high school grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony says he plans to be in court Tues­day and make a state­ment then, but won’t say if he’ll drop the charges.

Se­na­to­bia School Supt. Jay Foster re­it­er­ated in a tele­phone in­ter­view Fri­day that his aim is to en­sure that some fam­i­lies don’t ruin grad­u­a­tions for oth­ers by rais­ing a ruckus. He said that when he first started at Se­na­to­bia four years ago, out-of-con­trol cheer­ing meant some fam­i­lies couldn’t hear a grad­u­ate’s name called or see them cross the stage to re­ceive their di­ploma.

“I think grad­u­a­tion should be a solemn oc­ca­sion,” he said. “It should have some dig­nity and deco­rum and at the end we’ll cel­e­brate to­gether.”

He said he filed mis­de­meanor, dis­turb­ing- the- peace charges against three peo­ple be­cause they dis­obeyed re­peated in­struc­tions to hold cheers at the May 21 event. Be­fore fil­ing the charges, which carry a fine of up to US$500 and jail time of up to six months, Foster said he con­sulted with school board mem­bers, ad­min­is­tra­tors and the dis­trict’s lawyer.

Those who called re­porters to com­plain were African-Amer­i­can, but Foster de­nies any racial an­i­mus, not­ing that two black peo­ple and two white peo­ple were es­corted out. Foster has said the fourth per­son’s iden­tity is un­known, and so that per­son has not been charged.

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