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UPDATED 6/7, 4:00 a.m. ET: Ever Lopez received his diploma on Monday, ABC News reports. He received it four days after Asheboro High School denied him of it because he wore a Mexican flag to his graduation.
See original story below.
A North Carolina teen says he was denied his high school diploma because he wore a Mexican flag to his graduation.
According to WFMY News, the incident occurred Thursday night during the Asheboro High School Class of 2021 commencement ceremony. Footage captured by an audience member shows 18-year-old Ever Lopez approaching the stage with a Mexican flag draped over his shoulders. After his name is called, the teen goes to retrieve his diploma but is apparently stopped by a school employee who speaks to Lopez for a few seconds. The graduate is then seen leaving the stage with his diploma holder, but no diploma, as the crowd erupts into both applause and boos.
Lopez said he was informed that the reason he didn’t receive his diploma is because he wore the Mexican flag over his graduation gown. He also claimed he was told he would have to issue an apology over the incident, which has since gone viral across social media. Many have accused Asheboro High officials of racism, pointing out that other graduates had decorated their regalia and did not receive the same punishment.
Asheboro City Schools released a statement on Friday, explaining the graduation dress code allows students to decorate their mortarboards, but nothing else. However, in light of the recent controversy, district officials will reevaluate that policy.
“We continue working to resolve this issue with the student and his family so that he will receive his diploma from Asheboro High School,” the statement read in part. “He has worked very hard and we commend him on this great achievement. We are confident in his abilities and we know he has a bright future ahead of him.”
“The accusations being made about our school and district are disheartening. We work with each student daily to ensure they receive rigorous instruction, equitable opportunity, and compassionate care in a safe and inviting learning environment. Across our school and district, we are passionate about seeing all students succeed.”