Give me back my graduation money - enraged mother tells school

July 18, 2017
Shian Gordon
Shian Graham

Sophia Black-Hines wants a public apology from the graduation coordinator at Cambridge High School and the graduation fee of $15,000 to be refunded after her daughter was denied the chance to take part in the ceremony.

Black-Hines explained that on her graduation day, her 17-year-old daughter, Shian Graham, the deputy head girl, wanted to look beautiful for the occasion, so she added braids to her hair, which had started to grow back after she lost it all during chemotherapy. Shian was diagnosed with cancer last October.

Black-Hines said she purchased a few packs of natural braids and wove them into Shian's hair.

However when she turned up for graduation, she said her daughter was reprimanded by the graduation coordinator and later asked to remove her gown by the principal, despite being slated to deliver the valedictory speech.

"She said when she reached, the graduates were just about to start marching into the church. As she reached on the steps, the teacher said to her, 'A dis yu go do yesterday and no come pick up the speech?' in front of everybody. She felt so embarrassed; she bawl, she bawl," Black-Hines said.

She said Shian was so traumatised, her pressure went up and she had to be rushed to hospital.

Black-Hines also wants her husband's plane fare reimbursed, as he paid over US$1,000 to attend the ceremony. He was asked to alter his vacation leave by Shian so that he could witness her graduation.

Grace McLean, chief education officer at the Ministry of Education, said the ministry does not dictate the rules as it relates to graduations.

"But if there are areas where person are treated unfairly then we would have to intervene. For this particular case I would have to get further information before I am adequately able to respond," she said.

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