Chelsey Ramer (pictured) is a proud Native American, but when she attached a tribal eagle feather to her graduation mortarboard, she would reportedly not only be denied her high school diploma and transcripts, but fined $1,000 for her act, according to Salon News.
Ramer, who is a proud member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, brought her Atmore, Ala., Escambia Academy High School to task when officials at the school deemed that “students and staff shall not wear extraneous items during graduation exercises unless approved by the administration.”
When Ramer and a few other Native American graduating students approached the school’s headmaster for permission to wear their feathers at graduation, the youths were warned not to do so.
The teens were also urged to sign a contractual stipulation that enforces a strict dress code for graduating seniors so that they could walk with their class at the ceremony.
According to Ramer, she never signed the contract.
So when graduation day rolled around on May 23, the 17-year-old walked across the stage, proudly sporting her feather for all to see.
Ramer’s defiance, though, cost her big time, because the school refuses to hand over her diploma and transcripts, and in order to obtain them, she must fork over $1,000. “I don’t think it’s fair at all. I feel like it’s discrimination,” Ramer said in response to the school’s retaliatory move.
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Ramer’s former teacher, Alex Alvarez, who is also a Native American, is backing the student all the way, though, telling WPMI Local 15 News, “Being honored with a feather for graduation is a wonderful experience. It’s a lot more than showing off your culture. It has ties in to our spirituality as well.”
Still, school officials are refusing to budge on their stance against Ramer.
While Ramer has appealed the fine and may seek legal counsel, she has no regrets regarding wearing the symbol of her proud heritage at graduation, “It was worth it. It means a lot to me,” she said.