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School system reverses stance on special graduation request

Posted on Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 10:53 am


brian justice

A controversy over a Franklin County High School graduation ceremony policy has been resolved where a younger brother will be able to push his older brother’s wheelchair across the stage next Friday to get his diploma.

Amanda Jo Anderton had posted on Facebook that at the beginning of the school year, her son, Chandler Brock, 15, asked if he could walk his brother, Gage Brock, 18, across the stage at graduation.

Anderton said initial word from the school system was the brothers would be able to traverse the graduation path together.

“We have gone all year thinking that the boys would have this wonderful memory to cherish,” she said in a Facebook post.

However, she said school officials had “changed their minds.”

That led to airing the decision on social media.

FCHS Principal Dr. Roger Alsup said the school system agreed to change its stance on the situation because of the unique circumstance and the attention drawn to it.

He said the Franklin County School System, like other systems, has a strict policy about not allowing participation beyond the graduates and school personnel to participate in graduation ceremonies.

He said allowing outsiders to participate in the milestone event has led to problems at other schools, such as having fights break out. He said school systems have very strict graduation policies for that reason.

Alsup said the potential of having outsiders wear improper attire that would disrespect the ceremony is a concern in such situations, leading to the more strict participation policies.

Alsup said the school system has little control over what nonstudents can wear.

Another concern is that with 382 students walking the aisle next Friday, if a multitude of additional participation requests were made, it could open up further situations where school officials are faced with more circumstances that would be potentially difficult to control.

Alsup said the negative publicity about the situation prompted the decision change.

“We’ll take a chance on it and set how it goes,” he said, expressing concerns about setting a precedent. “If people think we’re unfair, cold or hurtful, that’s just not the case.”

Anderton said she was glad the system reversed its stance.

“We are very blessed and thankful for all the support,” she said. “Franklin County has the most supportive people anywhere. Gage and Chandler are so close and they deserve this memory together.

“None of us know what tomorrow will bring. But when you are the parent or sibling of a special needs child, you make the most of every day because in the blink of an eye, everything could change.”