The School of the Arts senior who used the “n word” in a tweet about a black classmate went to the prom on Saturday night, and she’ll be walking across the graduation stage on June 6 to receive her diploma.
A quorum of the Charleston County School Board told Ashley Patrick last week that she couldn’t do either, but that changed over the weekend.
“I’m thankful to the board for stepping in so the end of her senior year isn’t completely ruined,” said her attorney, Dwayne Green. “Once prom and graduation are gone, you can’t get those back. I’m really happy that they gave her the chance to go.”
Patrick has been in trouble for tweeting that if one of her black classmates “makes one more got damn remark in Roger’s class tomorrow ... (expletive) will drop.” She posted a link to a picture of a young white girl squeezing her eyes shut and crossing her fingers. The text on the photo read “I wish a nigga would.”
Patrick was suspended for five days, and the district administration wanted to remove her from School of the Arts and send her to Twilight, a computer-based alternative program for students who misbehave.
The constituent school board overturned the district’s recommendation and allowed Patrick to say at School of the Arts on strict probation, which includes no extracurricular activities.
Patrick appealed the case to the county school board, which voted to uphold the constituent school board’s decision.
The district administration told the county school board both graduation and prom were considered “extracurricular activities.” But James Perry Jr., the constituent board chairman, said his board never intended for Patrick to miss graduation or prom.
County Board Vice Chairman Craig Ascue led the county board appeal hearing, and he didn’t know until after the hearing that the constituent school board wanted Patrick to be able to go to prom and graduation. After talking with other board members, Ascue decided Saturday that Patrick could go to prom and graduation. He said those activities weren’t mentioned in the county school board’s ruling, and the county school board misinterpreted the constituent school board’s intention.
“We didn’t say we would take those away,” he said.
The decision to allow her to go to prom and graduation isn’t sitting well with all board members who heard Patrick’s appeal.
“This is just a big mess,” said board member Michael Miller. “I’m not understanding the process. I never changed my decision.”
Miller said the board never met again to clarify or overturn its ruling.
“No one person’s vote is stronger than the next,” he said.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or (843) 937-5546.