Suzanne Lukas earned the anger of many when she chose to deny senior Justin Denney of his High School Diploma. The reason? For blowing a kiss to his family, bowing to his friends, and pullling out a necklace that had been made for him after sucess at a track meet- as he walked on stage,
Lukas’ decision did not only humiliate the student by sending him back the seat, but she also withheld his diploma for what has now been a week. Since reports hit the internet, Lukas has become a sort of public enemy. Many are calling for her resignation, and a few petitions have already been started online asking not only for an apology but for Lukas to be fired from her current post of superintendent of schools.
Former students have also expressed their opinion, about both Lukas and Denney. Denney has been widely described as a good student, popular, friendly and out going. Melissa Majkut, a student of Bonny Eagle High had this to say, “Justin was a integral part of the championship season for Bonny Eagle Track, that won the State Championship less than two weeks ago.” Majkut added in her comment that Denney was a very good sportsman, shaking hands with competitors while operating with integrity.
A 2006 graduate, who only wanted to be known as Kayla shed some light on the incident Lukas referred to when she referred to the ‘incident’ with Beach Balls and silly string. According to Kayla, a student had sprayed a principal in the face with silly string. It has not been said whether or not this act was malicious, but the school was then prompted to issue the “contracts” that have been mentioned several times in the reporting of the incident. Kayla says she signed that very contract and that nowhere in the contract is it outlined that what Denney did was inappropriate. Kayla, and two other students who declined to be named stated that Lukas has been a problem for parents and students alike.
It’s been understood that the students were rowdy, and anyone with children can attest to the fact that noise and interruptions can severly agitate an individual. However, for a person in her position, with her authority, most seem to agree that she did infact overreact, and abuse her position to rob a student of a once in a lifetime moment.
Many have lashed out, some even publicizing Lukas’ email and phone number for those who wish to ‘personally’ express their outrage. In a meeting following the Diploma incident, Lukas stood by her actions saying that she was only upholding rules that the students had already agreed to. Some in attendance reported that many parents boo’ed Lukas as she stood by her actions. Since the meeting, Lukas has been silent. She has not publically defended her actions nor has she offered an apology. On Monday, June 22nd, yet another meeting will be held. This time, those in attendance may not just be those immediately involved.
Since the story hit the web, it has been revealed that Denney was not the only student who had his diploma held. Four other students were also denied their diplomas but for different reasons, perhaps behavior that did explicitly go against the graduation ceremony behavioral contract.
Irregardless of that, Suzanne Lukas’ reputation will most likely never fully recover. While I personally understand that she is, like the rest of us, only human, her lack of acknowledging the situation is a little disheartening. I can understand withholding an apology, but one week later and Justin Denney is still diploma-less.
One can only wonder the effect of Lukas’ actions on Denney, and really, how many more Lukas’ exist in our education system, and what effect are they having on America’s students.