Adams Says Principal Wrong On Barring "Overdressed" Students From Graduation

Sunday, May 18, 2003
The girl at the left was one of three girls not allowed to take part in East Lake Academy graduation rites because the principal said she was overdressed. The girls at the center did get to take part. The principal told the boy at the right that he looked like a "pimp." The principal later apologized for that remark. Click to enlarge.
The girl at the left was one of three girls not allowed to take part in East Lake Academy graduation rites because the principal said she was overdressed. The girls at the center did get to take part. The principal told the boy at the right that he looked like a "pimp." The principal later apologized for that remark. Click to enlarge.
- photo by WDEF-TV, Channel 12

County Commissioner Curtis Adams said a county school principal was wrong in barring several students from taking part in an eighth grade graduation because they were "overdressed."

Police had to be called to the East Lake Academy on Friday after parents became upset when principal Wendy Jung would not let some students walk across and get their diplomas.

She said one boy "looked like a pimp."
That boy was allowed to take part in the graduation after he removed his jacket.

Commissioner Adams said, "I am sure some school officials are going to be pretty upset when they get to the bottom of this. This is embarrassing for the school system. I understand it got on CNN."

He said, "The principal should have let those students walk across the stage. We are getting very thin on good principals in the county schools."

Commissioner Adams said, "A lot of girls wear long dresses and boys wear suits and ties for their graduations.

"That boy probably doesn't know what a pimp is."

Police officers had to escort several parents off the campus after they protested the principal's decision.

A parent denied that the parents became unruly and said there was no need to call police.

Gabrielle Cameron, one of three girls who were told their long gowns were too dressy and who were not allowed to walk, told Channel 12, "It makes us feel bad 'cause, you know, we worked these three hard years to get up to the 8th grade and see ourselves walk across the stage and we can't do it."

Lakiesha Cannon, another girl barred from the stage, told the station, "We couldn't even get our little diploma thing. We just were sitting right there listening to them walk across the stage."

Parents claimed that some girls wearing dresses that were similar to those banned were allowed to go on stage.

Kimberly Reed, whose son was told he looked like a pimp, told Channel 12, "I feel that it was very racist for her to tell my child that he looked like a pimp. My child do not know what a pimp is. And also, he is making honor roll today. And his name is Walter Williams, and I'm very proud of him."

Some parents said they planned to speak with a lawyer about the incident.

Cheryl Marsh of the county schools said Principal Jung did not allow three girls to participate in graduation exercises "because she said they were dressed inappropriately. There were the only students who were excluded from the graduation."

School officials said a few boys who wore long jackets with their suits did participate in the graduation exercises, but Principal Jung asked them to remove their jackets. They complied.

Principal Jung said she did apologize to a few boys for remarks she made that were "inappropriate." She apologized on Friday.


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