Some high schools offer seniors a certificate of completion and allow them to walk the stage if they haven’t passed the high school exit exam — as long as those students have met other graduation requirements.
There’s no such gray area in Oakland.
A few dozen students walked out of Oakland High School this afternoon to protest the district policy. Youth organizers estimate that 15 Oakland High seniors passed all other graduation hurdles but the test.
Jessica Williams, 18, is one of those students. She said she is determined to graduate, but that she feels the district’s policy is depriving her of a rite of passage. “When you walk across the stage, you start as a high school student and you end as an adult,” she told me.
Alex Katz, the school district’s spokesperson, said the students have the opportunity to take a free exit exam prep course and another class at Laney College. “We would rather have students study for a month, pass it in July and leave the school district with a real diploma, college credit and a foot in the door in college,” he said.
An organizer from Californians for Justice tells us that a big demonstration on the issue is in the works for Wednesday.