Hearing postponed for ASHS salutatorian
Published 2:45 pm Monday, June 5, 2017
By Beth Alston
AMERICUS — A appeals hearing scheduled for Thursday for the salutatorian of the Americus-Sumter High School (ASHS) Class of 2017 has been postponed.
Na’Charlesia Floyd apparently read from an unauthorized speech when it came her turn at the podium at the May 19 graduation ceremony. Social media exploded after the incident and it was said that someone disconnected the microphone during her speech.
An undated letter was sent to the student’s parents from ASHS Principal Kimothy Hadley, saying that Floyd would not receive her diploma “due to defiance and not following directions when told her speech’s first page was not appropriate for addressing the graduation audience. Na’Charlesia’s speech did not address the captive audience or the Class of 2017 demographics as a whole. Page 81 of the student’s handbook states, ‘While on school grounds or during school activities engaging in any verbal or physical act of bigotry whether observed, overheard, or known to be fact, by a member of the school faculty’ is a violation of the student code of conduct.”
The letter states the student can appeal the decision at a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. June 1 at the school. “Please note the appeals process will determine consequences and when and if the student’s diploma will be awarded … Please note, if you do not appeal this decision, your child’s diploma will remain with the Sumter County School System.”
The Times-Recorder went to the high school Thursday morning and noted that three Sumter County Sheriff’s deputies on site. Principal Hadley came out of his office and told the newspaper that there would be no hearing that day. When asked if the matter had been revolved, he said “Yes. No. I cannot discuss it.”
Sumter County Schools Superintendent Torrance Choates, Ed.D., was asked about the incident at graduation. He said it is not known if anyone disconnected the microphone during Floyd’s speech. “I also spoke at the graduation,” he said, “and the microphone cut out several times on me.”
Choates said the matter is a “school-level matter” and will be handled on the school level. He told the Times-Recorder Friday that Thursday’s hearing has been canceled because the student and her mother were “out of the country.” He said the hearing will be rescheduled for some time next week.
Floyd’s mother, Tierra Nesie, posted a video of her daughter reading her graduation speech on her Facebook page “to all of those who did not hear” the salutatorian’s speech.
“Before I address the success and excellence of my class, I would like to recognize individual groups within my class. I know our class is very diverse with many people of so many different backgrounds. I would like to first honor all of my African-American sisters. I salute you for defying all stereotypes. You have accomplished more than just surviving four years of high school. Even though you are sometimes unappreciated, degraded, talked about and torn down, you still remain standing because you have proven and defined the existence of black girls’ magic. We will continue to rise. Maya Angelou said it best, ‘You may write me down in history with your bitter twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I’ll rise.’
“Now to my African-American brothers. May you please stand. To you I say stand tall no matter how others may abuse you. You are loved and appreciated. Please do not let any stereotypes define your life or who are as a individual. You are sons of God. Your life matters. Continue to make your ancestors proud.
“To all my Latinos and people of Hispanic cultures and Asians, may you please stand. America needs you and you have helped to make this country great. You are loved and appreciated. We need and support you. This land is your land and my land. We do not wish to divide. We wish to rise together.
“Now to the class of 2017, join hands with the person next to you and stand all together. Know that as one we are strong, but divided against ourselves, we are weak. Please look at each other. Now see, feel and know we are all connected. As individuals, we have learned how to love each other beyond race, religion, sex or gender. ……”
Na’Charlesia Floyd was voted Most Likely to Succeed by her senior class. From information gathered about Floyd on social media, although unsubstantiated, she has a full academic scholarship to Xavier University in Louisiana, where she plans to earn an undergraduate degree, biology and then study biomedical engineering.