Last Updated:November 30 @ 05:03 pm

Okla. school withholds teen's diploma for cursing

By AP Staff

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The father of a central Oklahoma high school valedictorian said Monday his daughter's diploma has been withheld because she used a curse word during her graduation speech.

The Prague High School superintendent said in a statement Monday that Kaitlin Nootbaar "used language that was inappropriate for a graduation exercise." Prague is about 60 miles east of Oklahoma City.

David Nootbaar said his daughter said during her May speech that she had wanted to be a nurse, then a veterinarian, but when people ask what she wants to be now, she said "How the hell should I know? I've changed my mind so many times."

He said Kaitlin's speech was inspired by an installment of the "Twilight" movie series, in which a character used a similar phrase during a graduation scene. He said the written version of her speech used the word "heck," but that she inadvertently used the curse word.

School Superintendent Rick Martin issued a statement in which he called Kaitlin "an outstanding student" whose written speech had been approved.

"Unfortunately, she did not present the speech as written and used language that was inappropriate for a graduation exercise," Martin said.

Nootbaar said he and his daughter went to the school Friday to get her diploma and were met by Principal David Smith

"He said 'Shut the door.' I shut the door and he pointed at her and said, 'You and me have a problem,' "Nootbaar said.

Nootbaar said the diploma was on the principal's desk.

"He said right here's your diploma and you're not going to get it," and then told her she would have to write a letter of apology, Nootbar said.

Martin said he thinks the principal's request for an apology is "reasonable."

Kaitlin Nootbaar has no plans to apologize, her father said.

"She said 'Dad, if I write them a letter it's not going to be a nice letter. It's not going to be an apology,' " Nootbaar said.

Martin said he has had no communication with the family and hopes they'll "contact me personally so that this matter may be resolved between the proper parties."

Nootbaar said he has tried, to no avail, to contact the superintendent.

Kaitlin Nootbaar is attending Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford on a full scholarship, her father said, and is majoring in biology with plans to become a marine biologist.

He said the university previously accepted his daughter's high school transcript and 4.0 GPA as proof of her graduation.

"She didn't cuss anybody," David Nootbaar said, "and the funny thing is, the school she graduated from, its mascot is a devil."

The school's website identifies the mascot as the Red Devils and shows a cartoonish devil with horns and a pointed tail, winking and holding a trident.

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  1. cxComment by genesal
    August 21, 2012 @ 7:50 am

    The Hell you say!

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    • lanimom229Comment by lanimom229
      August 22, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

      An extremely bright young ‘lady’ should NEVER have used the word HELL in her speech. If it was a mistake, at the time, she should have apologized then and there. This is one of the problems that our youth today now faces; the brains to know when and where something is appropriate or inappropriate. TV doesn’t teach any form of morality nor do our schools. Schools are dumbing down our youth – get wise America these young people are our future.
      I am constantly surprised to hear the garbage that comes out of the mouths of babes. The F bomb is used every other word in what they consider a conversation and they don’t care if anyone around them hears what they have said, much less if they have offended someone. So sad.
      Where has common decency gone???
      I wish this young lady a bright future full of happiness and success. I bleieve she has learned a very important life lesson through this ‘mistake’
      Give her her diploma!

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  2. John DuncanComment by John Duncan
    August 21, 2012 @ 9:46 am

    So Principal David Smith said, “You and me have a problem.” “You and me?” The principal can’t use the English language correctly? He castigates an honor student for a simple mistake, yet he can’t communicate at an eighth grade level? That is ridiculous!

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    • navywifeComment by navywife
      August 21, 2012 @ 10:22 am

      Eighth grade? My second-grader uses better grammar!

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      Rating: 4.8/5 (5 votes cast)
  3. georgeaiComment by georgeai
    August 21, 2012 @ 11:02 am

    I agree with principal David Smith, Kaitlin used inappropriate language. The ‘H’ word is just the beginning, soon to follow would be the ‘S’ and ‘F’ words.

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  4. billwvComment by billwv
    August 21, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

    If this ‘learned’ [lear ned] principal will look at a King James Bible he will find that even the LORD Jesus used the word ‘hell’. Probably in the context of her speech she should have used some different phraseology, but the word ‘hell’ is not a curse word. It is a place [somewhere].

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      August 21, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

      Bill, you are missing the point. The word “hell” in the Bible is a place also known as Hades and Sheol. But the word “hell” has been used as a curse word where it actually has no meaning rather than its shock feature. If you don’t like the term “curse word” refer to it as an expletive, but the use of the word is inappropriate and in the context she used it had no meaning except causing surprise because she wasn’t referring to “the place”.

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  5. wedeyComment by wedey
    August 21, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

    The VP can say this is a big F_______deal, at the podium. This girl only said hell which I hear all over TV and the movies and much worse. There are so many episodes on TV where they feel that they have to have a person in the nude, even though they block it out. I am wondering how may years before it will be permissible to just not block it out. I am 71 and when there is something that happens or I hurt myself or I break something, I say oh darn and they my grandkids think that is so funny and they mock me. It is hard to say what they say behind my back. My two grandsons, as adults, played on the same ball team and a several of their friends also played and when one of them cussed, they would come back
    to the fence and say “sorry grandma” and a woman who was sitting around me asked, just how many kids do you have on this team. It is just a shame that swearing has become so normal that a high school speaker inadvertently said it in her speech. But if you punish her then you will have to punish most of the world.

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  6. wedeyComment by wedey
    August 21, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

    However, I think the girl should apologize and be done with it.

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  7. kelstepheComment by kelstephe
    August 21, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

    Puhlease! I have heard worse come out of teachers mouths in class to the students! Nothing is ever done about that! I have heard the foulness on the school bus by kids whom one would think should never have even heard that kind of language at their age. The school won’t do anything about that. While I don’t necessarily agree that she should have used that word in her valedictorian speech, it certainly was not as bad as it could have been, and the school should definetly not hold back her diploma.

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    • billwvComment by billwv
      August 21, 2012 @ 2:30 pm

      Kelstephe: I agree.

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  8. BillzillaComment by Billzilla
    August 21, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

    What I want to know is; how did this become a national story? A slow news day perhaps? A very slow news day!

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  9. Arthur MackeyComment by Arthur Mackey
    August 27, 2012 @ 8:03 am

    The situation is as follows; listen to any group of “Middle School” students in conversation and pay attention to what you hear ! Her use of the word Hell was not the best choice but an understandable one ! If I were her FATHER AND HER, THERE WOULD BE AN ATTORNEY FILING AN INJUNCTION AGAINST THE SCHOOL, to procure a rightfully earned Diploma and her transcripts regardless of her use of a word not liked; I bet I can go there and have every person in the school saying things ten times as bad as Hell ! All I need is a hammer and some bare toes from the Principal on down the line !

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