Catholic schools are notoriously strict. So maybe that’s why Latrell Davis’s mom, Ebony Martin, did not take pity on her 17-year-old son when he was barred from school, prom, the senior brunch, and the senior Mass after he was heard saying “Fuck Jesus” just outside the school’s church at a recent Mass. “He told me what happened,” Martin told DNAinfo. “I’m like, well, that was dumb on your end, so this is the punishment that you get.”
But then Cardinal Hayes High School banned him from attending graduation, which seems absurdly harsh and narrow-minded. “Latrell, due to his actions, is not welcomed at the Cathedral for the Cardinal Hayes Graduation. I think it is in everyone’s best interest that this request be adhered to,” wrote Dean of Discipline Rudy Turnbull in an email to Martin. “The decision to not have Latrell attend the Cardinal Hayes Graduation is final.”
Graduating high school is an important accomplishment for many families, but it’s especially so for Davis and Martin. “I was a teen mom,” Martin said. “I didn’t go to my own graduation, so I want to be proud to see my son graduate because he’s labeled as a statistic.”
“Coming from an African-American teen mother, the odds were really against him,” she explained.
This school is denying her right to see her son earn his diploma, and would rather publicly shame him than focus on the fact that he’s a kid who made a mistake and he’s sorry. Doesn’t the Catholic church preach forgiveness? Davis is, by the way, going to play football at Utica College on a $17,000-a-year merit scholarship next fall.
His version of what happened is this:
“When I passed the auditorium door, I heard someone say, ‘F Jesus,'” Latrell said, “and then I turned around, and the door was still open, and I repeated it, like questioning it. So I was like, ‘F Jesus?'”
Latrell said he went to class as usual after the incident but later in the day was called to speak with Dean of Discipline Rudy Turnbull, who told him that students had said he opened the door, went inside the auditorium and yelled the sacrilegious phrase, which the high schooler disputes.
“I never denied that I said it,” Latrell said, “but I didn’t say it directly into the auditorium.”
He says he’d like to apologize “for doing something so stupid.” Really, though, it’s the Bronx school that should be apologizing for doing something so stupid.
(Photo: Aidan Wakely-Mulroney)