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ATMORE, Alabama (WPMI) – An Alabama high school student says she was denied a diploma and fined $1,000 for wearing an eagle feather at her graduation.
For 17-year-old Chelsey Ramer, graduating on May 23 was supposed to be a joyous occasion.
“I was excited,” said Ramer.
It has been more than a week, and she still does not have her diploma. She said it is all because of her feather.
“They told me that if I wore it that they would pull me off the field,” said Ramer.
The eagle feather is part of her Native American Heritage. Ramer is of the Poarch Creek Band of Indians. She wanted to wear the feather as a show of pride for her heritage.
“Being honored with a feather for graduation is a wonderful experience. It’s a lot more than showing off your culture. It has ties into our spirituality as well,” Ramer’s former teacher Alex Alvarez.
According to a school contract, Ramer must pay a $1,000 fine to get her diploma and transcripts.
“I don’t think it’s fair at all. I feel like its discrimination,” Ramer stated.
The contract states, “Students and staff shall not wear extraneous items during graduation exercises unless approved by the administration.”
Ramer stated she asked the Headmaster at the time for permission to wear the eagle feather.
“She told us we could not wear our feathers,” said Ramer.
Shortly after inquiring, Ramer said she was told she must sign the dress code contract to walk on graduation.
Ramer stated, “I never signed it,”
Instead, she still walked across the stage proudly with her feathers and family’s support.
“It was worth it. It means a lot to me,” said Ramer.