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Honors Student Not Allowed to Walk at Graduation

By Ben Rainwater
By brainwater@wbbjtv.com

MEDINA, Tenn. - A West Tennessee honors student was sitting at home while his fellow classmates attended their graduation ceremony.

As students and family crowded South Gibson County High School, the Mendoza family was absent, but not by choice.

"They said he did not follow procedures and they just told him he's not going to be able to walk," said Julio Mendoza, the graduate's father.

Austin Mendoza missed what the school said was a mandatory rehearsal. Instead, he was working for a neighbor to ear money for college. And as a result, he is not allowed at the ceremony.

"Since they decided to do that to him, he just wants his diploma so he can just move on," said Mendoza on his son's feelings.

Calls to South Gibson Principal Phil Rogers went unanswered as he was getting ready for the ceremony. However, WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News spoke with director of schools Eddie Pruett.

"The administration set up and communicated procedures on multiple occasions to students and parents to ensure that the graduation ceremony would go smoothly. Those procedures were not followed. And as a result of that, the student will not be participating," said Pruett in a statement.

Other students confirmed off-camera that they were aware the walk-through was mandatory. Regardless of the mix-up, the Mendozas still celebrated Austin's graduation.

"We're gonna have a cookout just like if he would've walk across the stage and we're going to celebrate it," said Mendoza.

Austin Mendoza will still graduate high school. He will just have to wait until Monday to pick up his diploma. He does plan to attend college this fall to pursue a nursing degree.
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