Asheboro, NC – Police said someone threatened to “shoot up” Asheboro High School after a student who violated school rules by draping himself with a Mexican flag during his graduation ceremony was temporarily denied his diploma last week.
Asheboro Police Department (APD) Chief Robbie Brown said school district employees have received a total of 10 emailed threats so far, plus several more through Instagram and Facebook, WGHP reported.
Three emails were sent to the Asheboro High School principal, while the other seven went to the school district’s public information officer.
“I’m gonna shoot up this school if you don’t give that young man his diploma,” one of the emails read, according to Asheboro City Schools Superintendent Dr. Aaron Woody.
No suspects had been identified as of Sunday, WGHP reported.
Asheboro High School Graduate Ever Lopez said he was holding his Mexican flag throughout his graduation ceremony on June 3, and that he unfolded it and draped it across his shoulders just before he walked across the stage to receive his diploma.
When he reached his principal, she stopped him.
“She was like, ‘You cannot be wearing that,’ and I was like — I was in shock,” Lopez told WGHP. “I was like, ‘What?’ And she was like, ‘You can’t be wearing that flag, it’s a distraction.’ I was like, ‘There’s no way you’re telling me this now.’”
My Twitter people make this go viral. Principle “Mrs. Penny Crooks” denied my cousin his diploma for causing a “disturbance” to the graduation ceremony. pic.twitter.com/7HfKzNGdJ3
— ♔ Adolfo Hurtado ♕ (@dolfoohurtado) June 4, 2021
Lopez said he received his diploma holder after the exchange, but claimed school officials later refused to give him his actual diploma when he went to retrieve it, saying he had to apologize first, WGHP reported.
The school district later denied Lopez’s allegations, and said his diploma has been available for him to pick up since June 4.
Asheboro City Schools Public Information Officer Leigh Anna Marbert said an apology has never been requested, expected or required, WGHP reported.
The school district further noted that the “graduation dress code is clearly shared with students ahead of time, and the wearing of a flag of any kind is a violation of the dress code.”
Students have been allowed to decorate their mortar boards for the past two years, and the district said it had been made very clear that “this was the ONLY acceptable deviation from the standard cap and gown regalia,” WGHP reported.
The district said the controversy caused by Lopez shirking the rules has forced it to reconsider whether or not future senior classes will be allowed to decorate their mortar boards.
A school representative told FOX News on Monday that the district has repeatedly tried to get Lopez’s diploma to him, KTBC reported.
“Our team has made multiple attempts over the weekend to arrange this with the family,” the school rep said. “Unfortunately, we’ve received no response.”
The district said the accusations being made about Asheboro High School and the district have been “disheartening” and the entire situation has been “misrepresented across a number of social media platforms,” WGHP reported.
“The heart of the issue is the fact that the student did not follow the established dress code for the event and detracted from the importance and the solemnity of the ceremony,” Marbert said. “Our dress code is in place to ensure the dignity of the event is upheld and is fair to all students. Graduation is a milestone event and it is grossly unfair for one individual to diminish this event by violating the dress code.”
The district said it would continue to work to resolve the issue with Lopez and his family so he would have his diploma, WGHP reported.
“He has worked very hard and we commend him on this great achievement,” the district said. “We are confident in his abilities and we know he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Lopez’s mother claimed the school never provided specific guidelines or rules about the graduation dress code, The Washington Post reported.
“We feel it was an act of racism and of humiliation not only towards our family but to the entire Latino community here,” she said.
Lopez ultimately went and picked up his diploma on Monday, WTVD reported.