Student barred from graduation ceremony |

Student barred from graduation ceremony

Mark Garic


Douglas County leaves 13 percent of students behind by failing to graduate them from high school. Some are left behind due to their own choices. However, some are left behind through no fault of their own, but because of the failure of the Douglas education system and the failure of the elected board of trustees to act.

I recently appealed to the members of the board to consider the plight of one Douglas High senior who was failed by the system. My appeal was denied by the hardliners on the board whom I found to operate with extreme intolerance and prejudice. Such hardliners have no business being in education. They’re better suited to run a prison.

They pointed me to a set of policies that shift responsibility from the board to the student. If the system fails the student, the failure is automatically without any thought or possibility for review blamed on the student and, as a result, suffered by the student. It is no surprise that so many kids are failing, dropping out of school, and suffering from stress and anxiety to the point of breaking. These policies need immediate change.

I am not an advocate of releasing the students from the responsibility of doing the work required. But, some of these 13 percent of students have unique issues and in some cases the system failed them.

In this particular case, the district failed to follow proper procedures for the state proficiency test. These failures by the district contributed to the student failing the test. As a result, he was denied from receiving the diploma and from participation in the ceremony. Upon the request of the school principal and the parents for review of the exams, the state discovered failures in the Douglas system and instructed the district to correct the failures that contributed to the student failing the test.

However, this came to light a week before graduation, and the state did not offer another opportunity to re-take the test until July.

I asked the board to hear this case and consider allowing the senior to walk in the ceremony and receive a certificate of attendance in lieu of the diploma which he will obtain after passing the proficiency test in July. Most members refused to hear the case in a public and open meeting. They pre-judged the case without a meeting at all and denied the right to this senior from participating in the ceremony that he worked 13 years to earn.

The senior and his family was devastated because of failures of the district and this Board’s unwillingness to accept responsibility and act. Such devastation of a student and by the Douglas education system is as cruel as it is unjust and needs immediate correction.

The board needs to resign in shame for allowing this senior and possibly others that I am not aware of to suffer because of the failure of the district.