Some CHHS students won’t walk in graduation

Published 10:29 pm Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A number of Charles Henderson High School seniors said to have vandalized the school will not be permitted to participate in graduation ceremonies Thursday.

Troy City Schools Superintendent Linda Felton-Smith said the decision was based on established administrative procedure.

“The position that has been taken, has been based on board policy,” Felton-Smith said.

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The details of the incident, including what exactly happened at CHHS the night of May 13 and specifically who was involved are still unclear. Mixed reports and rumors have saturated the ordeal with confusion and uncertainty.

What is known is that an undisclosed number of students were involved in various acts of vandalism that night, and 14-15 of them were assigned to the Alternative Learning Center (ALC) for the remainder of the school year, as part of their punishment.

Those particular students will be prohibited from walking across the stage for graduation Thursday at Trojan Arena.

“At the beginning of every school year, every student receives a copy of the code of student conduct,” Felton-Smith said.

“In the code of student conduct is an acknowledgement page where the parents must sign off that they and the student understand the code.”

Felton-Smith said within that book is a listing of violations of the code of student conduct, each grouped into one of three categories.

“The incident that occurred on the campus of Charles Henderson High School falls under class III, and class III offenses are terminal,” she said.

Felton-Smith said students who are found to have committed terminal offenses could be expelled, although it’s not required by the code. At a minimum, however, certain courses of action must be taken.

“The option would be assignment to the ALC or suspension,” Felton-Smith said. “It could be one or the other.”

Felton-Smith said the code forbids students in the ALC or under suspension, from being on any campus in the school system.

“Furthermore, students may not participate in, or attend any school sponsored activity either on or off campus.”

And for administrators, that section of the code was the final determinant in deciding the ultimate fate for the seniors assigned to the ALC.

“Therefore, with the students involved in this incident,” Felton-Smith explained, “the code clearly states they cannot participate in school sponsored activities, and graduation is a school sponsored activity.”

While Felton-Smith said those students’ diplomas would be available for pickup at the school office once they complete their coursework, she said the episode itself was unfortunate.

“It is with great regret that this incident happened, however I must stand by the policies and procedures,” she said.

At least one student leader shared Felton-Smith’s frustration.

“As the SGA President, I’m very sorry this incident has happened,” said senior Taylor Smart who was not involved in the transgression. “But it’s up to the administrators now. There’s nothing we can do as a class.”

Felton-Smith said she was unable to comment further on how many total students were subjects of disciplinary action, nor whether different punishments were implemented for other students who may have been involved.