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After refusing a high school graduate her diploma for dancing during the ceremony, the principal was replaced.

Lisa Mesi’s answer to the pupils generated outrage, particularly Hafsah Abdur-Rahman’s rejection, which went viral after being recorded on tape last month.

The devastating video shows Hafsah happily strolling and dancing across the platform, leading one audience member to giggle as she prepared to receive her graduation from the Philadelphia High School for Girls.

Her pleasure quickly changed to ’embarrassment’ when Mesi declined to give her the certificate.

Hafsah argued that if they thought she shouldn’t do ‘The Griddy’ [dance] across the stage and do the Girls’ High traditions, nobody should have been able to wave, blow kisses, or do period signs since she feels like that’s the same thing. That seems unfair to her.

In another case, a student on stage tossed her hair and made a gesture, prompting an audience member to cheer.

Former students rallied behind the principle after learning of Mesi’s comments, hailing her as a ‘compassionate leader and vocal champion’ for kids in a statement.

They are privileged to have her shepherding their alma mater through extremely challenging years of city-wide budget cuts, policy changes, and a global pandemic that magnified every obstacle the faculty, administration, and their dear little sisters have faced, the statement said.

However, in response to the occurrence, the School District of Philadelphia said that it ‘does not condone the withholding of earned degrees’ and apologized to the individuals affected.

They are looking into this matter further in order to prevent it occurring in the future, the district stated.

A change of leadership seems to be part of the district’s attempts to avoid a repeat tragedy, with Mesi being replaced by ‘substitute principal’ Janis Butler after four years on the job.

Tomás Hanna, Associate Superintendent of the Philadelphia School District, termed the transition a “temporary change in leadership,” adding, Dr. Butler is excited to support the school community to help set the stage for a successful 2023–2024 school year.

“While this is the only information I can share at this time, I am committed to providing updates as additional information becomes available,” Hanna said.

It is now unknown if Mesi will be allowed to return to school in the future.

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