ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The graduating class of Kenowa Hills High School celebrated their commencement ceremony Wednesday evening, but the parent of one of the students was not allowed on school property.
Benito Hernandez Sr. admits he has been outspoken at sporting events and had previous problems with coaches, but he told 24 Hour News 8 none of that justifies not being able to see his son graduate.
“I just want to come in and sit down and see my son. That’s it. Just like any other proud parent,” he said.
The school’s ban stems from a confrontation at last week’s varsity baseball game. Hernandez Sr. admits to calling the coach an “a**hole” because he didn’t play his son, Benito Hernandez Jr.
But that’s not the first time Hernandez Sr. has butted heads with coaches.
Hernandez Jr. is a three-sport, Olivet College-bound athlete. During this year’s basketball season, Hernandez Sr. met with school administration after yelling at the basketball coach during a game for the way he was talking to his son. Hernandez Sr. said that at the time, the school told him he could no longer come to sporting events. He agreed but asked they reconsider for the baseball season. He told 24 Hour News 8 the school never got back to him, so he would keep his distance at baseball games.
“I sat in my car, I sat in the parking lot and I watched. If he wasn’t playing, I would just turn around and leave,” Hernandez Sr. explained.
At last week’s game, he did go to the dugout, though, wondering why his son — a senior — wasn’t playing in the season’s last game. He said an assistant coach heard him cuss, but thinks the school’s response to his frustration shouldn’t have led to him missing out on graduation.
“I’ve never told a coach or anything that I was going to do anything. I’ve called them names. I’ve said some derogatory things. I’ve said a lot of stuff under my breath,” Hernandez Sr. said. “I’ve been outspoken, but there are several other parents who feel the same way I have but they just don’t say nothing.”
Kenowa Hills High School Principal Brett Zuver sent 24 Hour News 8 the following statement about the situation:
“There has been a series of unfortunate incidents involving inappropriate behavior by the gentleman in question that cannot be tolerated. This has not been an isolated incident, I wish that it had not evolved to this point but it has. We must always keep our students and staff safety first and foremost in mind. It is unfortunate that this may take away some of the focus from the tremendous accomplishments of our 204 students who are participating in Commencement tonight, I truly hope that it does not.”
Hernandez Sr. previously told 24 Hour News 8 he planned to go to the ceremony, but later said he had decided not to go.
He said he was not trying to make a scene or take attention away from other families’ celebrations.