More than 30 high school seniors were called by name to leave an assembly in front of their peers, because they were not eligible to graduate. Now, the school in Bakersfield, Calif., is apologizing to each of them and their parents for the incident, which some have called “humiliating.”
“I’m going to make you stop and I’m going to make you look back at this group in front of you, because it might be the last group event with this graduating class,” one of North High School’s two truancy officers said during the assembly before calling forward 34 seniors in front of 350 others.
“We have six weeks of school left, we’re not done yet,” the truancy officer, who was not identified by name, continued. “And it’s not only for seniors but everybody else involved. We need to get to graduation safely, quickly and with as much fun possible, but we are not done yet.”
The man went on to say that when he called each students’ name, he wanted them to stop and look at their peers.
“As you walk away, keep looking and keep in mind what you’re sacrificing,” he said, encouraging those not yet eligible to graduate to complete whatever they needed to in order to receive their diploma. “This is your opportunity to get this work done.”
Though the speech was meant to motivate students, John Teves, spokesman for the school district, said the truancy officer’s decision to name the students publicly was a “very poor choice.” He explained that students ineligible to graduate are usually separated into a separate assembly where they learn what they need to complete.
“They humiliated them,” said Dylan Newsome, a senior who told the Bakersfield Californian six of the students named completed their requirements the same day of the assembly. “I don’t think it was right for them to do it right in front of everybody.”
“I was at the rally, we were all having a good time until they blacklisted the students who are not graduating,” Shea Holtachulte, whose brother’s name was called, told KERO. “For another thing, administrators don’t know what personal issues students are going through this semester, so humiliating them is completely unfair.”
Calling the incident a “breach of sensitivity,” Teves told the Bakersfield Californian that the district is now considering staff sensitivity training. It has not been decided if any disciplinary action will be taken against the two truancy officers involved.
KERO reported that the student who filmed the public naming on a cellphone said some teachers thought it was inappropriate as well and apologized to students afterward.
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