MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – It's important for Rugina Talabert to walk on behalf of her daughter, Noricia, on what would have been her graduation day at South Dade Senior High School.
"I want to sit in her seat. I want to march and be presented with her diploma," Talabert said, whose daughter was shot and killed in October while dropping off a friend.
The school's principal, Javier Perez, promised Talabert she could walk for Noricia, but Perez was recently critically hurt in a hit-and-run crash, and now the school’s new principal J.C. De Armas, doesn't have the same game plan.
DeArmas planned VIP treatment for the mother grieving her daughter, but VIP is not what the grieving mother wanted.
"They want to pass me the cap and gown on stage," Talabert said. "I want to wear her cap and gown. I want to sit in the seat where she was going to sit."
Noricia was a straight-A honor student and a role model to her class, Talabert said, she also planned to study nursing at the University of Central Florida.
Talabert cherishes Noricia's belongings, such as her senior sash.
"She never got a chance to wear (it) to her senior breakfast," Talabert said, holding a jacket.
Talabert and her pastors met with school administrators on Tuesday, and the school’s vice principal, Ethel Burton, helped navigate a compromise.
The mother will wear the cap and gown and walk in her daughter's honors students' procession.
"I was so distraught and torn up," Talabert said. "I hurt every day."