By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | Los Angeles Newspaper Group/Daily News
14 August -- Everyone deserves a second chance.
At least that is what Los Angeles Unified is now offering students who did not participate in traditional graduation ceremonies because they were missing or late with their requirements.
In commencement ceremonies across the district, dozens of students who did not meet the standards in time for their school's graduation will get a chance to don a cap and gown, walk across the stage and collect a diploma.
Under normal circumstances, students who didn't pass all required classes or the California High School Exit Exam in time would have had to wait an entire school year to participate in commencement.
"We want to recognize those students who worked hard, met all their qualifications, and earned their right to participate in graduation," said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines.
"They shouldn't have to wait."
The move to have summer graduations is a first for LAUSD.
Doug Waybright, director of secondary school services with District 3, said usually students who are a few classes short of graduation or still waiting for exit exam results plead with school administrators to let them join graduation festivities.
"Kids promise that they'll do whatever they need to do if you'll just let them walk but every principal has to say no," Waybright said.
"It is a very painful experience for the principal, parents and the student. This is an alternative that allows us to let students enjoy the festivities of graduation, because they persevered and did what was necessary."
SUMMER GRADUATION: Ceremonies in LAUSD's San Fernando Valley districts
Local District 1: Taft High School
Aug. 27, 6 p.m.
Local District 2: San Fernando High School
Sept. 2, 6:30 p.m.
If students know they will get a second chance to graduate in the summer, more will come back to take the CAHSEE or re-take failed courses for a shot at walking the stage, district officials said.
Debra Duardo, LAUSD's director of dropout prevention, said another benefit could be more-motivated students going to college.
"In many cases when students get a positive reaction from their families and their communities, it encourages them to continue on that positive path," Duardo said.
"It's an incentive to do positive things."