High school forced to postpone ceremony when overwhelming majority fail to meet graduation requirements

Graduating seniors at a Texas high school took the brunt of their classmates’ shortcomings after only a handful had met the requirements to advance.

(Video: NBC News)

Marlin Independent School District (ISD) in Marlin, Texas southeast of Waco, had originally scheduled the high school graduation for Friday. However, parents were outraged to learn just days before commencement that their children had failed to meet eligibility due to academic performance or attendance and, for the five of 33 who had succeeded, graduation would be postponed.

After a series of phone calls were issued, Marlin ISD released a statement Wednesday briefly explaining the decision to delay the ceremony until June. “The decision by the high school to postpone graduation will provide more time for students to meet necessary requirements for graduation, many of whom did not meet requirements due to attendance or grades.”

“The move,” the statement argued, “is part of a broader effort by Marlin ISD to maintain high academic expectations and ensure student success. The district has affirmed its commitment to providing necessary resources and support for students, and the new graduation date is seen as a testament to this commitment.”

After initially only having five students eligible, efforts were made to “help an additional 12 students resolve missing credits and other issues as of Wednesday evening,” Superintendent Dr. Darryl Henson announced.

By Friday, another eight had reportedly passed muster, but Henson seemed determined to delay until 100 percent of seniors met the necessary requirements.

“Our commitment to excellence remains unshaken. We hold firm to our belief that every student in Marlin ISD can and will achieve their potential. We maintain high expectations, not as an imposition, but as a show of faith in our students’ abilities. As we navigate these challenges, one thing is clear: students in Marlin ISD will be held to the same high standard as any other student in Texas,” he had stated.

Following up on that message, Henson posted to social media, “Our district will grow from this setback. Let this be a lesson learned for all. As we continue to go through our annual graduation audit, it’s our obligation to ensure that all students have met all requirements. Support, accountability, & integrity will remain at the forefront.”

Speaking at the meeting Wednesday and with members of the media, parents expressed their outrage at the failure of leadership including one mother who had been informed via letter in April that her child was on track to graduate only to have that recanted days before the occasion.

“At the end of the day, it’s supposed to be a partnership,” one mother said. “It really is. There’s a school-community compact.”

“This is a catastrophic failure of leadership and accountability,” she had expressed.

Others weighed in on how the postponement penalized those few students who had met all of the requirements on time.

“They are not responsible for the mistake and oversight of others!!!” one wrote as another decried, “Good job. Penalize the kids that did what they were supposed to do, along with out of town family, etc.”

In light of the postponement, members of the community gathered together at the Marlin Missionary Baptist Church Friday to hold a last-minute celebration to honor the students. The school principal was reportedly not expected to return for the next school year.


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