Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why were these students singled out?

Mission Bay student says he was punished for activism
By Wendy Fry, SDNN
June 16, 2009

Approximately 200 Mission Bay High School seniors walked across the graduation stage Monday, but one student says his high school principal told him a single truancy prevented him from participating in the ceremony.

David Morales, 18, purchased his cap and gown before the school’s principal, Cheryl Seelos, told him last week he would not be walking at the graduation, Morales said.

Morales said Seelos told him a single truant mark on his record disqualified him from participating. Morales said he had eight truancies throughout the school year, but they were not on his final record.

Morales - who plans to attend UCSD in the fall - believes his campus activism, not the truancy, made him a target. Seelos did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

Last semester Morales campaigned and petitioned the San Diego Unified School District board to remove shooting ranges on local high school campuses. He is also vocal about military recruiting on high school campuses, and vocational training replacing University of California prerequisite courses on campuses that have diverse student populations.

School board member John de Beck said he petitioned the school board, the superintendant and Seelos about excusing Morales’ truancy by giving him credit for his public service. In February, the San Diego Unified School District voted 3-2 to remove the JROTC shooting ranges from area high schools.

The superintendant and a member of SDUSD’s legal department asked Seelos to reconsider the punishment, de Beck said.

“She [Seelos] was incredibly inflexible about it,” de Beck said. “I decided to withdraw from the graduation and boycott the ceremony on his behalf. I didn’t feel right about going there and graduating all these other students if Morales wasn’t going to get to walk.”

There were other students with truancies who were allowed to participate and who were not held to the same standard as Morales, de Beck said.

The truancy Morales said Seelos cited occurred June 9, when Morales left his fourth period class to go to work, which met the school’s internship requirement, he said.

He stopped in a parking lot across from the school to be interviewed by Univision, a television news station that wanted to talk with Morales about his campus activism.

Morales said Seelos interrupted the interview and instructed Morales to return to class. He followed Seelos’ instruction, but Seelos told the instructor to mark him as truant, Morales said.

Morales was also involved in a student-organized walkout on May 1 to advocate for immigration rights. He received a truant mark for that too...

This story brought to mind another case in which a school official came down very hard on a student for going to an immigration rally.

Another school official takes advantage of a final opportunity to punish a student.

Look at the video and decide if the superintendent was right to single this student out for humiliation in front of his family and thousands of people. Why was this student really singled out? As his father says, "It's once in a lifetime...There are no do-overs."

Student Denied Diploma After Blowing Kiss to Mom
Jun 18th 2009
By Jeremy Taylor

While we've all heard sad tales of high school students not being allowed to graduate at the last moment because of senior pranks gone wrong, a student losing his diploma for blowing a kiss to his mother as he walked the commencement stage has to be a first.

But that's what happened to Justin Denney, a Bonny Eagle High senior from Standish, Maine. Apparently this show of long-distance affection violated a code of conduct that Denney and the other students had signed.

The school district's superintendent, who was presiding over the ceremony, made the snap decision not to give Denney his diploma and send him back to his seat empty-handed.

You can watch Justin Denney's "conduct violation" after the jump, and decide for yourself if the superintendent's harsh ruling had any merit.

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