Withholding a highschool diploma

I’ve never been efficient in describing complex problems, so this might seem rambling. Please try and stay with me. This is the situation:

A student is allowed to miss a maximum of eight unexcused days; they are allowed to miss an unlimited amount of days if they have a proper excuse, which would include a medical note signed by the doctor. If they miss over eight days, they must go to the schoolboard and explain why they have missed so many days. Rumour has it that the schoolboard will allow it the first time and disallow it the second; unfortunately, not many people can tell me if this is true. They will withhold a diploma if the student doesn’t make a very strong case the second time around.

I have already went before the board once. I have to go again.

I’ve only missed a day over the limit in most of my classes, with the only exceptions being in the later periods in which I’ve missed two over; however, as I’ll explain later, this may not be the case. The first time I met with the schoolboard, it was because I was often sick and couldn’t afford the hundreds of dollars in doctor’s bills just to get a check-up and receive an excuse. So they stated that any absences I had which could be explained by sickness, I could merely call in and I wouldn’t need the aforementioned note. So…

I know that the school secretary didn’t mark all of times I’ve called in as an excused absence, but I have no way to prove this to the schoolboard; I marked a few of the more serious cases on a calendar, but I’m uncertain if this would hold up as proper evidence for her mismanagement. However, she has also lost several of my doctor’s notes before and I’ve had to call in and have the secretary write another for me.

My class has recently had their Senior Trip, in which they take the cache of money they have saved over their highschool education and takes a vacation. The schoolboard does not count this as an unexcused absence. They count it as an “educational field trip”. This year the Senior class went on a cruise, and I was unable to attend because I got sea-sick very easily and I’m highly hydrophobic. I had to return to class and endure the eight hours of boredom while my fellow classmates were out getting smashed and partying on the cruise ship. The superintendent of the school believes the schoolboard may count these days as make-up for the “unexcused” absences, but she isn’t sure.

I was supposed to meet with the schoolboard yesterday, but due to prior arrangements I was unable to find a ride (I live several miles away from the school) so I could attend the meeting. I told the superintendent of my problem before the meeting, and she explained that I could meet with them on June 8th if I couldn’t make it. Apparently, she had only the slightest clue of this discussion and accidentally told the schoolboard that I would be at yesterday’s meeting. Because I wasn’t able to go, I fear the board may believe that I don’t care enough to discuss the withholding of my diploma and will refuse to pass me.

Does anyone know ofanything I could do to remedy this situation? I have only a limited window of opportunity to take summer classes if it boils down to that, so that is out of the question.

I’m being rushed in typing this, so please excuse any errors.

It’s really almost impossible to advise you properly, since these sorts of things can vary tremendously from state to state, and even between districts in the same state (assuming you’re in the US). That said, my advice to you would be if you’re unsure of whether the school board will render a decision in your favor, or may rule against you, but too late to register for summer classes, you should probably just suck it up and register for summer classes and be done with it. It beats spending another year to get your diploma, and you can probably drop them anyway, should the board rule in your favor. IMHO.

Wow, you’ve got several issues that jump out at me. As I discuss this, you should know that I am a public school teacher in Texas. The rules affecting your situation may differ greatly.

A: You need a parent. Desperately.
B: Sounds like you’re in a rather small school, if the board itself is handling this issue. My district, itself small, has a committee of teachers and administrators to handle these problems.
C: Are there opportunities to “make up” the time? If so, use them.
D: If the board wants to meet with you to discuss your future, go to the meeting. There is no excuse good enough. No car? Get a bicycle. Walk. Find a friend. Here’s where a parent would come in really handy.
E: Go to school. I don’t know your health situation, but if it didn’t require going to the doctor, then go to school. Make them send you home.
F: Find a parent to help. This would preferably be your parent.
G: Find a teacher or administrator who is willing to help you.
H: Find some other responsible adult (counselor, minister, doctor, adult relative) to help you.

Good luck. It sounds like you have made a real jam for yourself.

Who knows? But I would think that if you’ve adequately completed your studies, i.e., turned in every assignment and passed every test, they cannot actually withhold your diploma.

However, I have a hard time believing you’re that sick and your parent or guardian isn’t already tearing the school board a new asshole. Where are your parents?

I have a 3.8 GPA, so failing the class because I’ve missed too many assignments isn’t a problem. My mother has been really pissed off in having to deal with the schoolboard, especially when the secretary is making my situation worse. But they’ve taken to not answering her calls anymore.

Follow Q.E.D.'s advice and register for summer courses anyway. If you have not completed your work and have not followed the school district’s policies, they probably CAN withhold your diploma…school boards DO have that power.

It’s too bad you’ve had to wait until now to settle this…if you have a health condition that somehow prevents you from following the school district’s attendance policy, then you should have spoken to your doctor and obtained documentation so the school could write you a 504 plan (Rehabilitation Act of 1973, section 504) This deals with disabling conditions that affect quality of life and school…each district should have a “section 504 officer” or an equivelent name who your parent could speak with. It’s a civil rights law, so not really enforceable (not like a Special Education law, which has $$ tied to it and districts actually take seriously most of the time), but nonetheless, the district would be compelled to accomodate you. This if IF you sincerely have a health condition (mental health problems count too) that is documented by a doctor (or psychiatrist, even counselors in some instances) that affects your ability to attend school.

Though, you’d have a hard time making somehting like this happen and fly at this time, so close to the end of the game.

Also, in the future, keep copies of all documentations (like doctors’ notes). It sounds like you think the secretary has it in for you…you just might be SOL on this one. Register for the summer courses. It will show your intent to graduate and your seriousness as a student, if nothing else.

What’s done is done up to this point. But from now on: document, document, document!!!

If you have to have a doctor’s note - make a photocopy before you hand it over to the school. Note on your photocopy who you gave the original with a date and time. Follow this approach for every original document you hand over to school officials.

Every time you talk/meet with someone on this issue, make a note of it. Don’t use a scrap of paper but use a spiral note pad. Date and time each interaction and describe the nature of the conversation or meeting.

Remember that it is your life. While the school secretary, teachers, princpal, school board, etc., are supposed to be doing their jobs, you have the same obligation to do your job. If the school secretary screws up or doesn’t take your phone calls, it is their excuse and not yours. Document! Document! Document!

My high school withheld my diploma because they claimed I owed $2.85 for a paperback book which I had already returned. I refused (still refuse to pay it). But, I was admitted to a university anyway and the lack of a high school diploma has never caused me any problems.

Ooooooo…those bastards.

Minor knitpique…

For the love of all that’s holy, please don’t say “have went” (or “have run”, or “have came”). You seem to be quite articulate, but the “have went” jumped right out at me. The more nearly you can demonstrate impeccable grammar and usage, in writing and speech, the stronger your case before the Board will be.

oops…“have run” is fine. it’s “have ran” you shouldn’t say. :smack:

Yep. That was about 20 years ago (I graduated in 1985). I dropped by the school about ten years ago to see if maybe they’d forgotten but, no, they had that I still owed the money and I still refuse to pay it. :slight_smile:

Are you planning to go to college in the fall? If you’ve already been accepted to a college, and can have your school send them your good final transcript, a high school diploma is probably besides the point. I dropped out of high school myself (I went to college after eleventh grade, well and thoroughly pissing off the principal) and don’t have a high school diploma, and haven’t had the slightest problem getting into my state college while in eleventh grade (with no diploma, like almost everybody else when they apply to college), transferring to a good private college after my freshman year, and getting into good PhD programs post-college. Nobody’s even asked to see my high school (or college) diploma, just my transcripts. I’m told the major exception is the government - should I want to, say, go work at the National Institute of Health after finishing my PhD, I will need to give them a copy of my high school diploma, the BA and PhD notwithstanding. I think it’d actually be fun, “Hi, I’m Dr. GilaB, and I’m here to take my GED.” My principal had actually told my parents that when I finished college, I could have my high school diploma, but when I called them the summer after graduation (because it bothers my mother, not because I care), I got a lot of hemming and hawing, but no diploma.

If you’re not planning on going to college, a)plan on going to college; b) you probably actually need the stupid piece of paper.

I stopped attending high school in my senior year got a full-time job and spent the summer in Europe. Two years later university accepted me part-time, and a year after that full-time. The diploma is overrated; but like GilaB says, unless you are planning on going to college or university you will probably need it.

Oh, my mom did go and get my diploma which was handed to her with no questions asked. I got a 47% in geography, pretty good for missing half the year I thought. Good luck!

No kidding? I graduated from a high school in Austin in 1986. We coulda been in classes together. What part of town are you from? I’m a Lanier grad, myself.

As to the OP, I still think there’s more to this story than being said. I assure you that your school takes Section 504 seriously. If that was an issue, why wasn’t it handled already?

The school doesn’t take your mom’s calls??? Get serious. She’s a taxpayer. The school is a government agency. They cannot simply decide not to answer a citizen’s requests. I’ve had some pretty crappy administrators in my career, but I’ve never had one who simply won’t talk to a parent. I can’t say there aren’t any out there, but they surely must be rare.

Did the school really allow you to get to the last weeks of school before addressing this problem? Again, I find that dubious. I imagine there were opportunities along the way for you to remedy this issue and you did not follow through.

I base this assertion on your OP: “I was supposed to meet with the schoolboard yesterday, but due to prior arrangements I was unable to find a ride…” You state clearly that the board was to meet with you on this issue and you did not appear. Are they supposed to send you a taxi? If you live several miles away, they already send a big yellow bus!! Get on it!!! As you grow up, you will learn that there are all kinds of appointments in life that one must keep. Not having transportation is not an excuse. Find transportation. Get walking. (Of course, you have made no statement that walking is an issue or that you are otherwise physically handicapped beyond being sick a bit too often. If walking is a problem, then I can understand transportation being a bit more of a challenge. It’s still not impossible, though.)

It is your future that the board is wanting to tamper with. You don’t describe anything that you’re doing that might persuade the board not to enforce the school’s attendance policy.

Consider this: You are asking the school to confer a diploma. You want something from them. They don’t need anything from you. It is incumbent upon you to meet their requirements. If you choose not to meet those requirements, they don’t have to confer the diploma. I’m sure the graduation policies were published well in advance. You should have met the requirements. That you didn’t is your fault, not their fault. I mean you no disrespect, but it seems like you want this school to grant an exception for you, but you haven’t tried playing by their rules.

Sorry for being misleading in my question. When I stated that her calls were being ignored, I meant by the schoolboard members themselves; the secretary at the school is still taking her calls, but she is only able to reach the members when they’re at home. I imagine this would become very grating on their nerves, so they have taken to being “away” whenever she tries to call.

You were correct in assuming that I live in a small community. The highschool has a student body of only seventy people, with the staff increasing the number of people at the school to just under thirty. It’s also a rural community, so most of the kids are living a couple miles away from school. I’m the rare exception in that I live over sixteen miles away from the school. There is absolutely no way I could have attended the meeting when it was at seven in the evening. At that time, I’m babysitting for my mother while she attends college. I even tried asking a few friends for a ride to the meeting, but they were unable to do so because they were birthing cattle and feeding the other animals at that time.

a) Take the GED and screw the damn Board of Education. You are obviously a good student with your high GPA. They are there to make your life miserable from guidance all the way up. You don’t need them as much as they’d have you believe.

b) I’d write a concise letter my local representatives at the State level. Keep your calnedar as evidence and a log of all correspondence. You claim to your rep (a) you have been sick, (b) diligent in your duties to try and rectify this matter, and (c) you have maintained a 3.8 GPA the entire time - despite the missed days. Therefore, you conclude, you are rightfully entitled to your diploma for which you have worked so hard. SEND COPIES TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS AND THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE with a brief cover letter (with the letter to your reps as an attachment) requesting their assistance in finding a satifactory solution to this matter in a expedicious fashion. Make it explicit what a satisfactory solution is to you - receiving your diploma! And, a right to have any negative remarks expunged from your records.

b) I’d seek legal council, if you can. They have no right to own your life, ultimately. Espeically the Senior Trip crap…they are not supposed to be supporting such activities. A cruise is educational? For what, sex ed? :rolleyes:

If you still do not get satisfaction, or at the same time, make an inquiry to your Attorney General’s Office for a telephone number for “Legal Aid” (or an office of similar title) which offers free legal advice.

Actually, I went to high school in Gainesville, FL but I moved to Austin for UT. Most of my native friends went to Austin High or the LBJ science academy. Maybe I know someone you know tho’. (small world, ain’t it? :slight_smile: )

As far as the OP, if you’re already accepted into college, I don’t think you even need your diploma. But, I agree with Jinx, it might be worth checking with a lawyer. Although will undoubtably entail a lot more inconvenient meetings which you will have to attend.