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Proposed Changes Would Create Stiffer Barriers to Graduation Exceptions

A proposed revision to the school district's graduation policy would only allow students who had faced "extenuating circumstances" to participate in graduation short of credits, require the principal's recommendation and create a summer graduation.

Students who haven't completed graduation requirements shouldn't be allowed to participate in high school graduation ceremonies unless extenuating circumstances prevented them from completing credits, according to the first draft of revised graduation policies put forth by the 's graduation task force.

The school principal must recommend any exception allowing students to participate in graduation, with the final decision left to the superintendent, under the draft policy. The proposed revision also calls for instituting a summer graduation for students who aren't able to graduate on time because they are five to ten credits short but do complete their credits in summer school.

The graduation task force, comprised of administrators, teachers, parents and students, was assembled to address concerns that arose after last year's graduation, when Acting Superintendent Adolfo Melara allowed with little notice, in some cases over the objection of their principal.

The existing policy gives the superintendent sole discretion to decide whether a student can participate in graduation.

The proposed revision will come before the school board at its Thursday night meeting for a first reading. The public will be able to comment on the policy. Under board policies, the board may take action on the item at the second reading, though it may waive the second reading or ask for a further reading.

The school board's Thursday meeting will take place district office at 398 B Street at 7 p.m. The board will also:

  • consider appointments to the positions of assistant superintendent of educational services and director of technology.
  • hear a presentation from staff on the district's special education programs.
  • consider a proposal to appoint Stradling, Yocca, Carlson and Rauth as district bond counsel.
  • hear an initial proposal from the Classroom Teachers Association for contract negotiations for the 2012-2015 school year. SSFUSD will also present an initial proposal to the Classroom Teachers Assocation.
  • vote on whether to approve a Chevron cogeneration system at South San Francisco High School using Measure J bond funds.
  • consider approving an anti-bullying policy.
Mark Cox March 06, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I'm torn on this one... on one hand I'm not against students who are really close to the needed requirements to graduate on stage and have a plan to finish up in the summer, to go ahead and walk with their friends. At the same time I've also seen the threat of not walking across the stage be a real motivator to students to get their grades up. So I guess I like the policy that students with special circumstances have a way to appeal. I graduated over 20 years ago (yikes) and no one has ever asked to see my diploma. It is an achievement but it doesn't seem to do much for you in real life. To let a few students walk who don't quite have all the credits yet does not de-value a document that already doesn't carry much weight.
Christina Oates March 06, 2012 at 07:39 PM
I think that this first draft is definitely a good step in the right direction to changing the current policy. I do, however, think that the "extenuating circumstances" need to be made more specific so as not to allow too much leeway in the exceptions. I am a firm believer in "not enough credits, no ceremony", so I think the "exceptions" should be very few and far between.
Angelique March 06, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Yes circumstances need to be defined! As a mother of a soon to be freshman, I would be appalled if he was allowed an honor he didn't earn and there should be more input than just a Superintendant that wants to exercise his power. When I graduated I did it early (Jan) and had MORE than enough credits, still crossing stage with my friends. If students aren't going to focus, they don't deserve it, it's really not that hard!
Tess March 07, 2012 at 04:03 AM
In my view the change in wording is just about right. By saying "serious and unexpected" it narrows the reasons and situations a student would be considered as an exception. Also, the site Principal would have to agree with the Superintendent's recommendation. So it woud not be up to one individual to make the decision. It also fairly addresses those students who are shy a few credits. I think the task force did a fine job in the re-wording of the policy. All of you involved in the creation, guidance and actually working as a task force member deserve a round of applause. Not often that a fiasco, such as what we had last year, is turned into something positive in a fairly short amount of time. You all get an "A".
Tess March 07, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Couldn't disagree with you more Mark. When you allow the students who have not done the work to get the same privilege as the ones who HAVE done the work - you DO de-value the work and the worker who completes his/her work. Would you pay someone who "almost" finished painting your house or get up from the dentist chair when he was "almost" done with your filling? Allowing students who "almost" get their work done sets them up for failure and an unrealistic view of what the world expects from them. You may not think it's a big deal, but as an educational institution, the SSFUSD is supposed to teach our young people to be responsible and hold them accountable when they are not. As parents we are supposed to do the same thing. Just wondering what you are going to let your darling baby get away with and if that will be the best thing for him. Teaching the young is not easy most of the time because it is not about making them happy, it is about giving them the tools they will need to grow into adulthood - hard as that may be. Wonder if the students who were shy a few credits but crossed the stage anyway would pay someone who promissed to finish fixing their car over the summer.

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