michelle-obama-*Normally, an appearance by the first lady of the US would be something to take pride in. But the opposite has occurred for Michelle Obama, whose plans to address a combined graduation ceremony for five area high schools next month has come under fire from parents and students.

According to the Associated Press, protestors say Mrs. Obama’s appearance at an 8,000-seat arena in Topeka, Kans. could limit the number of available seats as well as take the spotlight away from graduating seniors. The first lady’s speech is reportedly tied to the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools.

“I’m a single mother who has raised him for 18 years by myself,” Tina Hernandez, parent of Topeka High School senior Dauby Knight, said Thursday at a school board meeting. “I’ve told him education is the only way out. This is one of the biggest days of their lives. They’ve taken the glory and shine from the children and put on Mrs. Obama. She doesn’t know our kids.”

Hernandez was among several parents and students who spoke at the school board meeting while urging district officials to rethink their decision to invite Mrs. Obama. Ron Harbaugh, a spokesman for the Topeka school district, told the AP Friday that discussions were under way to work out the logistics and planning for the event, including how many tickets each family would be allotted.

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