CHARLOTTE, N.C. — What started as a happy dance at a high school graduation on Monday at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte ended with the dancing student being escorted from the ceremony, without her diploma.
That Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology student told reporter DaShawn Brown she went to get her diploma the next day but was told she couldn't have it until school leaders spoke with her parents.
Mary Caldwell said she had waited for that graduation moment for most of her life.
Her family captured the very moment the senior walked across the stage to get her diploma, and then she started dancing and twirling.
“Everything was happening at once,” Caldwell said. “I just wanted to show some of my excitement and my family was excited with me."
She was waving to her family on the way to her seat.
“I was waving at them because I was just, like, ‘Hey, can y'all see me? I'm excited,'” Caldwell said.
Seconds later, an officer approached her and escorted her out.
Caldwell said the school principal told her that her behavior was the reason why she was escorted out.
Before Monday, she said there were no rules against dancing.
“They didn't mention anything about that,” Caldwell said. “They said which side to wear your tassel on. They were going over speeches.”
Channel 9 reached out to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools about the incident.
“Any parent or guardian who has concerns about graduation expectations for student behavior and protocol should meet with school administrators to determine next steps,” a district spokesperson said in a statement.
Caldwell said she went back to school with her sister on Wednesday to meet with the principal, but she still did not get her diploma.
“I deserve my diploma,” Caldwell said. “I had 24 credits. That’s the requirement. I didn’t have any financial obligations. Why couldn’t I get my diploma?”
She said the principal would only agree to move forward after speaking with Caldwell's parents.
Brown spoke with Caldwell''s mother over the phone, and she called the ordeal an overreaction.
The mother said she will go to the school on Thursday.
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