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Manchester board wants more notices for grads not graduating

March 27. 2012 8:50PM

MANCHESTER -- City high schools should not turn away a teen in cap and gown on graduation day because the student lacks the credits to graduate, school board members argued on Tuesday.

Instead, the Committee on Curriculum and Instruction recommended the school district change its policies so that students are notified at least eight days before graduation whether they have the credits they need to walk with their class.

Committee member Arthur Beaudry also added that if for any reason eligibility is in question on graduation day the student should be allowed to walk. The diploma will then be withheld until the final grades can be determined.

The policy recommendations are the result of at least one student last June being barred from participating in graduation ceremonies after the student showed up at the Verizon Wireless Arena in cap and gown.

One student, Ashley Grady, earned her diploma through a special program with the PASS alternative school. When she showed up to graduate with her fellow students in the Memorial High School Class of 2011 ceremonies, she was turned away. Because the credits from this program were not sent to Memorial it appeared the senior lacked the credits needed. A closer look into Grady's records after the ceremony revealed she in fact did earn enough credits.

Shortly after, Grady's mother, Sharon Grady, brought the problem to the attention of the Board of School Committee. The board and Superintendent of Schools Thomas Brennan pledged the error would never happen again.

To ensure this, the proposed policy would require all programs outside a student's local school to provide grades to confirm that student's eligibility for graduation. The committee also asked that a provision requiring high schools obtain all final grades from outside programs be added as well.

High schools should then have grade calculations complete and notification sent to students at least eight days before graduation ceremonies.

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