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School criticized for ceremony rules
I attended my granddaughter’s graduation at Central Hardin High School on May 25. The school provided an area for the handicapped to view the graduation ceremony. According to those seated in this area, the fire marshal would not allow spouses, sisters, brothers or a friend to stay with them. I saw some refuse to leave their loved one alone, so they left.
One lady sat beside me. She couldn’t understand why her husband who had had bypass surgery just three years prior had to climb bleachers and leave her in the handicapped area. She felt he was just as handicapped as she.
Another man who had open heart surgery three weeks prior sat in the handicapped area while his wife had to sit elsewhere to see their grandchild graduate.
A mother whose daughter was confined to a wheelchair was instructed she could not sit with her daughter. She was not allowed to sit on the bleachers with her daughter in front of her either. She was told she would have to move or a police officer would be called to have them removed. When the officer arrived, she was instructed she would have to obey rules set by the fire marshal or leave the building. She left with her daughter. I later saw her and her daughter at a local restau-rant. The daughter told me she didn’t get to see her sister graduate as tears welled up in her eyes.
I understand there have to be rules, however, I believe those in charge of graduation don’t look at the complete issue concerning the handicapped person and their families. I suggest the superintendent and school board members address this issue before the next graduation.
As for me, my last grandchild has graduated from Central Hardin. But these special people should not have to experience this in the future. I’m sure the fire marshal, police and faculty did what they felt was right according to the rules. However, I feel these families were discriminated against because the matter wasn’t looked into and discussed thoroughly.
I never will forget what I saw happen to people on this night.
Response from Hardin County Schools
We are always looking for ways to improve. We comply with the wishes of fire department and safety officials at each of our events. The Central Hardin High School graduation ceremony was no different. We were following the guidelines and recommendations of fire department and safety officials that evening.
Events at our schools must maintain the integrity of safety. However, we also must make experiences at our school accommodating to all. We will work with fire department officials next year with these concerns in mind. We hope to rectify concerns like those from Mr. Knight and make next year’s ceremony and events like it safe and accommodating to all.