Too far? Arresting a mom for bad behavior at high school graduation

UPDATE: Closed comments on this post after 300 remarks. (And about 200 more that I either blocked or took down.)

I have been surprised at the amount of manic cheering at the high school graduations that I’ve attended.  In some cases, exuberant family members scream so loudly for their graduates that they drown at the names of the next students.

But this seems to go a bit far: Arresting a South Carolina mom for yelling too loudly at her daughter’s ceremony?

When I read these stories, I wonder if high school graduations are following the path of children’s sporting events where vociferous parents have been told to tone it down or leave the field.

But I understand the frustration of parents when their child’s name is lost to the applause and cheers for the prior graduate. I attended one ceremony where the procession of graduates had to be halted until the cheering relatives calmed down.

According to the New York Daily News:

Beach balls and bullhorns are commonly banned from graduation ceremonies, but some schools also want to silence the screaming — going so far as to have overzealous audience members arrested.

That’s what reportedly happened to South Carolina mom Shannon Cooper, who was accused of whooping so loudly during her daughter’s high school graduation Saturday night that cops charged her with disorderly conduct and placed her in a detention center.

“Are ya’ll serious? Are ya’ll for real? I mean, that’s what I’m thinking in my mind,” Cooper told WPDE NewsChannel 15 in Myrtle Beach. “I didn’t say anything. I was just like OK, I can’t fight the law. “

Cooper said she didn’t act any differently than other families when their children’s names were called during the South Florence High School ceremony. Her daughter, Iesha, told WPDE she didn’t realize her mother was being arrested until her friends told her.

“They’re locking your momma up for cheering — and I was like that isn’t right because other people was cheering and they didn’t lock them up,” Iesha told the TV station.

Police reportedly warned parents that screaming would result in expulsion from the Florence Civic Center. Those who became disorderly as they were shown the exit were also arrested, officials said. That allegedly included Cooper, who was placed in a police van and then taken to a detention center. She was there for several hours before posting a $225 bond, according to WPDE.

“Yesterday can’t be replaced… My mama went to jail on my graduation day,” Iesha Cooper, 18, told the station.

It wasn’t jail but community service that student Anthony Cornist was reportedly handed after his graduation from Mt. Healthy Junior/Senior High School in Ohio. His family and supporters gave him such a rowdy reception that school officials denied him his diploma and told him he will have to perform 20 hours of community service before he can graduate, according to ABC 9 in Cincinnati.

“I will be holding your diploma in the main office due to the excessive cheering your guests displayed during the roll call,” principal Marlon Styles Jr. wrote to Cornist in a letter obtained by ABC 9. While the school didn’t respond to requests for comment, the senior said Monday he personally “did nothing wrong.”

The school is allowing Cornist to split the community service with his family, but his mother told ABC 9 the punishment is “ludicrous” and none of them would be doing it.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

297 comments Add your comment

Another Math Teacher

June 5th, 2012
4:15 pm

It’s a ceremony, not a party.

I’ve had students cry because no one could hear their name (the person in front of them having so much noise.) The people who are so disrespectful need a night or two in jail.

KidsDoMatter

June 5th, 2012
4:28 pm

I completely understand why cheering is frowned upon. But, I would think that a school would come up with a way to allow celebration during the ceremony. My daughter will be a senior next school term and we were discussing this article, because she expects our family to cheer next year. I wouldn’t if it means going to jail or not receiving a diploma (do to any circumstance).

I think the punishment is a little too much, because it’s been a long road to get our kids to this point and most parents are extremely happy on that day.

I’m more excited about which college she’ll attend and documenting her last year as a minor. I don’t think most kids realize that many of the kids they see daily, will never be seen again or in 10 to 20 years. It can be an exciting and sad occassion.

TeacherMom4

June 5th, 2012
4:29 pm

The entitlement “me first, me only” attitude that this behavior exemplifies has got to stop. During our 5th grade promotion ceremony (which I don’t necessarily endorse) we experienced the same thing. Really? You’re that excited that your kid made it out of elementary school? No, you just have no self control and need all attention at all times. That’s why your kid acts the way they do at school. They have been taught since day one that they are the only one who counts. Screw everyone else. While arrest may seem excessive, removal from the auditorium is perfectly o.k. with me.

Nope

June 5th, 2012
4:31 pm

SERIOUSLY?! You people think someone should be JAILED for cheering to loudly? I take it then that you are all willing to live in a police state. Good luck with that. Losers.

Fayette Teacher

June 5th, 2012
4:31 pm

She wasn’t arrested for cheering too loudly but for disorderly conduct as she was led from the ceremony. That’s understandable. I witnessed the screaming antics of a few families at a recent local university that disrupted the sanctity of the ceremony for the graduates whose names followed the ruckus. The screamers were led away but not without undue distraction.

Enlightened

June 5th, 2012
4:33 pm

Over-criminalizing adults just like they’re over-criminalizing students!

Tony

June 5th, 2012
4:43 pm

This was my graduation, actually. haha She was way louder than any of the other parents and it lasted for quite a while. And she mislead reporters when she said everyone’s parents cheered. Maybe, 1 in every 20 students had any crowd noise and there were only 4 or 5 notably loud cheers. Everyone was warned beforehand to be silent, it’s her fault. It was pretty distracting.

What the...

June 5th, 2012
4:44 pm

In order to hear all the names of the gradutes receiving diplomas, guests are aksed to remain quiet until all the names are called. Period.
How hard is it to understand the rationale and observe this request: Basic courtesy and respect for other people. If the parents do not understand this, what can you expect of the children!!!

Once Again

June 5th, 2012
4:46 pm

Government schools are prisons buy most standards. Why should anyone be surprised that not respecting the authority of the warden wouldn’t have its consequences. There is a more fundamental reason why so many are choosing homeschooling and private schools – freedom.

The state is premised on violence. Even the most basic foundation of funding is based on force/violence and not voluntarism. Nobody should be surprised – you were warned and you blatently ignored the warnings and continue to mock those who point out the obvious.

redweather

June 5th, 2012
4:46 pm

I had no idea that a graduation ceremony possessed sanctity.

Aquagirl

June 5th, 2012
4:47 pm

What part of “behave like a human being” was unclear to Ms. Cooper? People act like the rules don’t apply to them. If you blatantly ignore them, you’ll be removed. If you act like a heathen while being removed, you’ll be arrested. She CHOSE to escalate the situation.

Frankly I’m tired of every immature adult calling the media after they go ballistic when asked to follow a minor rule, end up in cuffs, and then claim they were arrested for breaking a minor rule. The media immediately runs the story and enjoys all the water-cooler attention.

Maureen, please join the Train of Shame for your misleading headline and exploitation. Crap journalism may get your page more views but in the long run it’ll bite you on the butt.

What the...

June 5th, 2012
4:48 pm

Oops,I left this part off: I vote for locking her a$$ up and making an example!

Yankee Prof

June 5th, 2012
4:55 pm

It has long been my experience that the volume of a graduate’s family cheering section exists in inverse proportion to that individual’s academic talent.

Double Zero Eight

June 5th, 2012
4:57 pm

Many parents lack common sense.
I have seen graduates embarrassed by the reaction
of their parents. This is only high school. I can
only imagine what the parent will do if her daughter
graduates from college.

catlady

June 5th, 2012
5:09 pm

I agree with Teachermom4. It is “look at me” behavior that also impinges on the graduates after the child being “uproared” for. Unacceptable. Glad this school made an example of this yahoo.

Perhaps graduations should be 6 hours long, so each graduate can get a 5 minute standing ovation. Of course, with these uncouth morons, they would cheer for 6 minutes!

Roll Tide

June 5th, 2012
5:13 pm

Graduation Ceremonies are a waste of time and money.

Dr. Monica Henson

June 5th, 2012
5:13 pm

Our younger son’s graduation was this year and was held in the auditorium of a large church. At the beginning of the ceremony, the audience was asked please to behave respectfully as befitted the occasion. Nonetheless, there were bands of rednecks with airhorns and many who stood and screamed like maniacs anyway. Inside a church.

When I was an administrator in New England in the 1990s and early 2000s, many of the graduations were held outdoors in football stadiums. The behavior of the audiences was unbelievable. Beach balls, parents and family members showing up in tank tops and flip flops, smoking cigars, some obviously inebriated, Silly String, air horns, screaming.

This kind of behavior is utterly trashy and shows no class at all or respect for the outstanding accomplishment of the graduates.

We attended our niece’s high school graduation at a small-town rural high school in western North Carolina, where both my husband and I graduated as well. It was a happy but sedate and formal occasion, much as our own high school graduation was more than thirty years ago. The kids of course cheered and threw their caps into the air at the end, when it was appropriate. However, the crowd was respectful, applauding politely for each student. I wish that all graduations could be this way so that kids could appreciate them, especially those who will not go on to experience a college graduation.

Sam the Sham

June 5th, 2012
5:15 pm

Too many people have lost decorum. They either yell like they’re at a NASCAR race, or get up and leave as soon as their child gets his. We’ve become a rude nation.

My Heavens!

June 5th, 2012
5:16 pm

You can tell a Northerner wrote the piece quoting the mother. “Ya’ll” is not our contraction for “you all” – it’s “y’all.” Its ludicrous to be arrested for yelling, but people should not act like they have been invited to “come on down” on The Price is Right.

Sk8ing Momma

June 5th, 2012
5:17 pm

There is a time and place for everything. Excessive cheering is relative; however, it appears that common decency is not so common. I’m a “cheerer” and I like events to be “festive”; but, I know better than to be disruptive and interfere with someone else’s recognition. Let’s hope that parents think of others while celebrating their child’s accomplishments.

Btw, the headline is blatantly false if in fact the mother was arrested for disorderly conduct. Shame on you, Maureen. I’m no journalist; but, I’d think that truthfulness would be covered in Journalism 101. I’d like to expect more from my local paper; but, the quality of the writing in the AJC often leaves me shaking my head.

resno2

June 5th, 2012
5:17 pm

Yeah, ya don’t want to have one family cheering loudly and potentially making another student feel badly because their family isn’t as loud.

My Heavens!

June 5th, 2012
5:18 pm

Also, it’s not the school’s job to think of a way you can celebrate your graduate. Anybody ever hear of throwing a party? Do y’all cut up that way in church or at a wedding ceremony?

SBinF

June 5th, 2012
5:19 pm

My parents didn’t make a scene when I graduated high school. They didn’t make a scene when I finished undergrad. Maybe they’ll whoop and holler once I finish my master’s?

Lower-class citizens need public taming

June 5th, 2012
5:19 pm

I am not referring to socio-economic groups of people: the folks that have zero consideration regarding hoe their behavior may affect the enjoyment of a public event simply need to be brought to heel. Phones in theaters, out-of-control children in restaurants and stores, graduation or other honors ceremonies – I’m not the only one who feels that social behavior has devolved to a pitifully low standard. I can guess at a few of the causes (read: “tolerate everything” and “celebrate differences” are the culprits), but I would be willing to pay extra taxes for a behavior police squad.

OrderOnboard

June 5th, 2012
5:21 pm

Great decision…she was locked up for being disorderly after being asked to exit the ceremony. We need to show our kids some class and be classy not trashy. And we wonder why the kids today are so messed up and have no respect for anything…just open your eyes–they parents done have any and want no consequences for their actions. GREAT example for her child… Break the rules, get asked to leave, and then act a plum fool…LOCK HER UP and the rest of the morons too…Be classy, not trashy—its graduation to better things!

Lulu

June 5th, 2012
5:23 pm

I saw the headline and was *positive* that this story was about Carver’s graduation this year. Many parents and family members – and the whole ROTC – were removed from the ceremony, almost as if it was a badge of honor. I was pretty sure that at least a couple of those were arrested, but perhaps they were just kicked out of the venue.

At my son’s awards ceremony this year, parents managed to cheer and whoop briefly (literally about 1 second) and when appropriate, so that the event was not unnecessarily prolonged, and it was easily possible to hear every name that was called. Also, parents were cheering for all of the children; not just their own. It was a perfect example that silence is not necessary for respect; it’s possible to cheer without being trashy … a lesson that a lot of people out there clearly need to learn.

InAtl

June 5th, 2012
5:23 pm

Very misleading info from Maureen. She wasn’t arrested for “yelling too loudly”; she was arrested for disorderly conduct while being escorted out. Reminds me of a story years back where the headline was Teen Arrested for Stealing Ice Cream, when in fact the teen had broken into a school and was eating ice cream while in the school. Big difference but designed to mislead in favor of the perpetrator.

Artie

June 5th, 2012
5:24 pm

Typical low rent behavior.

Englishprof

June 5th, 2012
5:24 pm

Let’s do something useful. Instead of wrangling about the problems involved with overexuberant behavior at graduation ceremonies, let’s count the egregious grammatical errors made by the mother(5) and the student(4) while the arrest was taking place.
AND THEN–sentence them both to one month in jail for each error!
Seriously–perhaps then they might learn the beauty of correct pronoun usage; but then again, probably not. We are graduating functional morons—by the thousands.

Proud (but silent) Mom

June 5th, 2012
5:25 pm

My husband and I recently attended our daughter’s graduation where we were exposed to the same type of obnoxious behaviors you are discussing. Yes, graduation is a ceremony, not a party. At our daughter’s, not only were the graduates warned repeatedly during practice that there should be no yelling/disruptions, the audience was reminded of the rules of decorum to be followed before the ceremony and again when they had to stop the ceremony after several outbursts (including airhorns and barking noises). Many of the parents around me were upset by all of the noise as were several of the graduates I spoke to after the ceremony. In our family graduation from high school is expected (as is graduation from college). It is not something so remarkable as to be cause for yelling and flag waving. Thankfully, the principal was true to his word and held the diplomas of those students whose families could not follow the guidelines. I guess the next time many of these graduates will be yelled at/for will be when the screw up an order at the McDonalds.

bootney farnsworth

June 5th, 2012
5:33 pm

the only thing stupider than the arrest are the graduation nazis who applaud it.

was she throwing punches?
was she endangering herself or others?
was she using obscenities?
was she drunk? or stoned?
was she naked?

the US have the highest drop out rate in the 1st world. our kids can’t compete.
hell yes a graduation is something to get reasonably crazy with.

God help us, the left and right on this board have agreed on something – a desire
to see people act like cattle and meekly do what the gov’t says in the most
trivial of matters.

on one thread we complain about lack of parental involvement, now we bitch when
they are?

and you wonder why Joe Public has lost faith in us?

bill pritchard

June 5th, 2012
5:37 pm

My son had a lot of loud cheering, but it was the teachers. :)

bootney farnsworth

June 5th, 2012
5:37 pm

hell, lets just beat the snot out of the kid and his parents right on stage.

JGrim

June 5th, 2012
5:38 pm

Sad story: at honor’s day this year, my husband and I could pinpoint the parents who, 7 years from now, will be the idiots at graduation.

Well,

June 5th, 2012
5:38 pm

Honeslty, I see both sides. I do want to cheer for my graduate, but not at the expense of the next graduate (and his/her family) not being able to hear their name. That just isn’t right. Going to jail for it seems excessive, but honestly, at my nephew’s kindergarten graduation I wish some of the people had been issued a ticket or something. A lot of them were WAY overboard. If my nephew had asked me why we weren’t as loud as some of the other families I would have let him know that while we are very proud of him, but it is discourteous to be as loud as some of the other families were. I would have explained to signifcance and reverance that a graduation ceremony deserves. I would have added that this is a stepping stone, not a major milestone and I expect to attend many more graduations for him. We wouldn’t have issues like this if everyone followed the golden rule.

Well,

June 5th, 2012
5:39 pm

You’re right, EnglishProf. It was embarrassing. SMH.

bootney farnsworth

June 5th, 2012
5:42 pm

@ proud/mom,

not sure where you live, but in much of the south a graduation of any kind, even HS is not a given.
often the first in a family’s history.

it merits going a little crazy over.

I don’t yell at kids in McDonalds. I just request the order be corrected.

GradeM

June 5th, 2012
5:43 pm

graduation ceremonies–high school and college, are out of control—these people in the audience are screaming and chanting like wild animals—you can’t even hear the names of the next 1-2 people announced. totally embarrassing behavior.

Danny G

June 5th, 2012
5:44 pm

It is called behaving properly. It is not fair to the other students when a family continues to yell and scream when their child’s name is called. It is a problem and I am glad it is being addressed. What part of “don’t do it” do the parents not understand and what kind of an example do they make to the other children.

bootney farnsworth

June 5th, 2012
5:47 pm

why not have guards with tazers and timers patrolling the stands.
yell for .001 too long and we’ll take you down with 10,000 volts.

then we’ll tie you to a post so the “better classes” and spit on you
as they walk by.

clark

June 5th, 2012
5:49 pm

@shame – what’s wrong with the title of the story? Maureen is only asking a question for responses. Shame on you.

bootney farnsworth

June 5th, 2012
5:50 pm

when schools make stupid rules, people will ignore them.
a concept I totally endorse.

if you want rules followed, make sensible rules.

Aquagirl

June 5th, 2012
5:50 pm

it merits going a little crazy over.

Then they can throw a big party at the trailer and let the guests whoop and holler and barf Schlitz as their graduate parades across the deck.

Bored At Work

June 5th, 2012
5:50 pm

I Believe Once Again is Neal Boortz. If not, it is definitely his clone. But, in my opinion, this mother did not deserve to be jailed. Simply asking her to leave would have resolved the issue as well. Sometimes police power is abused. If they want you badly enough they will label anything “disorderly conduct” and haul you off to jail. It’s sickening!!

OHHH?!?!?

June 5th, 2012
5:50 pm

Thought this was going to be an article about a woman who was spanking her child in public…i feel mislead, slightly.

Maureen Downey

June 5th, 2012
5:51 pm

@bootney, At our local graduation once, a dad left the auditorium to take a critical work call. He was rushing back in and went in through a wrong gate, apparently disregarding a police officer’s call for him to not enter that way. He was arrested and taken from the gym and missed the entire cerenony. Many of the parents on hand told me about it later, and the man was charged and apparently received community service and a fine. A parent witness told me that the man did ignore the officer but only because he had already had a seat and had given in his ticket. She was stunned that he was hauled off.
I think the dad was wrong, but I remain shocked that he was taken to jail.
Maureen

Cliff Claven

June 5th, 2012
5:58 pm

Maureen, here’s a link to a story in Ohio where the student was denied his diploma. He has to serve 20 hours of community service. The funny part is his family can serve it as well to help shorten the hours he has to serve.

http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/local_news/water_cooler/popular-mt-healthy-high-school-senior-anthony-cornist-denied-diploma-because-of-too-much-cheering

Aquagirl

June 5th, 2012
5:59 pm

Simply asking her to leave would have resolved the issue as well.

That’s what they did, according to the story. So, screaming mom knows ahead of time not to scream. She screams and whoops anyhow. She’s asked to leave. She apparently puts up a fuss over that and is arrested.

What should the police do? Hold an encounter session to resolve her Oppositional Defiance Disorder? Let her scream herself out like a kindergartener throwing a tantrum?

Kyle T

June 5th, 2012
6:00 pm

Graduating high school is not that big of an accomplishment in reality. Graduating with your MBA at the very least is what is needed these days to get a decent job. So a high school graduation ceremony is more like a middle school graduating ceremony in today’s world. Nice, but seriously not that big of a deal.

Maureen Downey

June 5th, 2012
6:02 pm

@Cliff, This is a weird story as I am not sure how an 18-year-old can be held accountable for what his parents or grandparents do in the stands at graduation.
Maureen