Judge Orders Sophie B. Wright Charter School To Let Barred Students Attend Graduation

May 13, 2019

An Orleans Parish judge issued an order Monday morning blocking administrators at Sophie B. Wright Charter School from banning students from their graduation ceremony. But the order came too late for students to attend.

Sophie B. Wright administrators suspended a group of high school seniors and banned them from participating in graduation after school leaders say the students held a water-fight on campus in April as a senior prank.

 

After getting banned from graduation a group of six students sued the school, saying administrators did not follow proper procedure for student discipline.

 

"The [school] handbook says before any disciplinary action is taken a student has their right to tell their side of the story first, and that is not what happened here," Southern Poverty Law Center attorney Victor Jones said. Jones is representing the students.

 

On Monday, the morning of the ceremony, a judge issued a preliminary injunction, giving students the right to attend. But the order came too late for families to make it there on time.

 

Parent Samantha Smooth says instead her son will graduate in a small ceremony for the seven students barred.

"I'm happy that the court did rule in our favor, but I’m upset that I was unable to, you know, see my son walk across the stage with his full class," she said.

The court has yet to issue a final ruling.

 

Jones says since graduation has come and gone, the final ruling will be largely symbolic. 

 

School attorney Tracie Washington has said the prank caused two teachers and a student to slip and become injured.

 

The school suspended nearly 30 students for five days and barred them from participating in senior activities. But after pushback from parents, the school rescinded the suspension, after students had already served it. The school had also initially barred more than 20 students from graduation, but has since rescinded that punishment for all but seven students