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School Backs Down, Won’t Punish Grads For Tossing Caps In The Air

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Despite warnings not to do so, many graduates of Ridgewood High School tossed their caps in the air at the end of their graduation ceremony, prompting the school to withhold all diplomas until students apologize. (Credit: Home  Video)

Despite warnings not to do so, many graduates of Ridgewood High School tossed their caps in the air at the end of their graduation ceremony, prompting the school to withhold all diplomas until students apologize. (Credit: Home Video)

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Updated: 05/29/14 – 11:07 a.m.

NORRIDGE, Ill. (CBS) – Less than a day after telling graduates they would not receive their diplomas until they apologize for tossing their caps in the air — despite being told not to — a suburban school district has reversed course.

On Wednesday, Ridgewood Community High School District Supt. Robert Lupo posted on his blog that Ridgewood High School graduates repeatedly were told not to throw their caps in the air at the end of Tuesday night’s commencement ceremony, because people could get hurt.

“Now, this may not seem like a big thing to most, but I would like to speak to why we think it is. First of all, our staff goes to great pains to make the ceremony a dignified event. The gym is decorated; people dress up (some of them); we expect dignified behavior. Secondly, it is an indoor event. In past ceremonies, people have been hit by flying caps. We’d just as soon not have graduates leaving with cuts and black eyes,” he wrote. “Lastly, it was a simple instruction: ‘Please do not throw the caps or there will be consequences.’ The graduates heard this and made their choice to mar what should have been a joyous event.”

Coincidentally, the school’s nickname is the Rebels.

The school initially said graduates would not be allowed to get their diplomas until they apologized, demanding the class send representatives to next week’s school board meeting to say they’re sorry “for the disrespectful and insubordinate behavior displayed by many members of the Class of 2014.”

Late Thursday morning, Lupo backed down.

“We recognize that most of those who participated in the graduation ceremonies were well-behaved and followed instructions. I am sorry that the ceremony was marred by a few students who chose not to follow those instructions. Consequently, we have re-thought our policy and will be sending out diplomas to all members of the class of 2014 today,” he wrote in a post on the school’s website.

If students do not get their diploma by Wednesday, they should call the school to make sure they get it.

Several parents had complained in comments on Lupo’s blog that the superintendent was abusing his power by punishing every student, regardless of whether they were among those tossing their caps.

It appears Lupo will be retiring or stepping down this summer, as he mentioned on his blog that this was the last class he would be addressing as superintendent.

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