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Long BoE weighs rules for commencement

POSTED: June 28, 2011 7:00 a.m.
Mike Riddle/

Long County Assistant Superintendent Dr. Glenn Purcell talks to the board of education during a recent meeting about graduation requirements.

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For Long County High School seniors set to graduate in 2012, requirements to participate in the commencement ceremony may change in July.

Long County Board of Education Vice Chairwoman Florence Baggs said at the June meeting that she wants to change the participation requirements for those who walk at the graduation ceremony.

Baggs said the school system was the entity that set the requirements for participating in the ceremony and that both those students receiving their Georgia high school diplomas and those receiving certificates of completing high school should be allowed to walk.

After the state began requiring graduates to pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test to receive their diplomas, the board of education in 2007 changed the participation requirements for seniors walking in the ceremony.

After this change, students who did not pass the test but passed all of their classes and met the other requirements for high-school graduation would receive certificates of completion but not diplomas.

When the change was voted on in 2007, Baggs was the only board member opposed to it.

She said no parent came before the board in favor of the change and that the only people voicing opinions were school administrators.

Chairman Dempsey Golden and board member Emma Strickland both said they are in favor of keeping the policy as it currently is. They support the rule that only students receiving a state-recognized diploma are allowed to walk in the ceremony.

"I support the current policy … a child has the responsibility to meet the standards. It’s unfair to our other students who have met these standards for these other students to be allowed to participate," Strickland said.

Baggs said the following students should be allowed to participate in the ceremony: those who complete the state requirements for high school diplomas, those who complete the requirements of Long County High School and those who complete the requirements for the Long County alternative school.

After a lengthy discussion, the board placed the matter on the July meeting agenda. Members will vote to change the requirements or keep them as they currently are.

Also regarding future graduation requirements, Curriculum Director/Assistant Superintendent Dr. Glenn Purcell told the board that freshmen who enter high school in 2011 will not be required to take the state graduation test.

Instead, their end-of-course tests will be given more weight toward graduation.

Purcell said the state requires end-of-course tests in American government, U.S. history, economics and world history. At the local level, he said, world geography also is required.

In other business, the board:

• approved the 2012 fiscal year budget.

• nominated Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters for the Georgia Superintendent of the Year award.

• recognized Jeannette Jones, who retired after 22 years of service in the school system.

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