BREWER – Brewer High School officials made a change to a rule that determines who they let participate in senior class activities.
This comes after a student with special needs was told she could not walk with her class at graduation.
On Monday night, her mother brought her concerns to the Brewer School Department at their meeting.
Jennifer Newcomb said her daughter, Sydney, has autism and mental retardation.
Sydney needs to come back for another year to finish up her special ed program.
In June, Sydney was told she could not march across the stage at graduation. According to Newcomb, that went against what Sydney was told when she entered as a freshman.
“In her mind, she is a senior. Her senior class — those are her friends, sNewcomb, “So I’ve been fighting kind of quietly behind the scenes for her this entire school year,” Newcomb said.
That fight paid off Monday night. School officials unanimously made an amendment to school policy to allow Sydney and students like her to decide themselves what class they march with at graduation.
The superintendent said the issue arose because policy requires students to have completed all academic requirements to get a diploma in order to participate in graduation.
Superintendent Cheri Towle added “that’s pretty typical of other area schools around us as well.”
But according to Towle, it wasn’t always enforced for cases like Sydney’s.
“There were a couple of students who did march and then came back and that did cause issues, as to well did they graduate or not graduate,” said Towle, “and that was just a miscommunication between the faculty at the time.”
Officials did not change the policy itself on Monday. But the amendment ensures that this year, Sydney and others in her program can walk with the class of 2019.
Her mom said she’s going to keep working with the school department so that the same problem doesn’t come up in the future.
“For my daughter, her social connections mean everything,” said Newcomb. “For her to participate in all her senior activities with her senior class would make all the difference.”
The superintendent said school officials are going to look into rewording the policy, and will take it up at their meeting in March.