Glendale cyber student can’t walk at graduation

A cyber school graduate living in the Glendale School District has been denied participation in Glendale School District’s graduation commencement.

“The school district is discriminating against students of cyber schools,” said Angela Beers, who’s request on behalf of her daughter was denied.

Beers received a denial letter from the district on Thursday.

She said she is not asking for her daughter to be awarded a Glendale diploma at the June 5 commencement; her daughter will be awarded a diploma when she travels to Pittsburgh for PA Cyber Charter School’s graduation ceremony.

Beers said the aim of the request is “just to be acknowledged that she was [at Glendale],” she said.

Beers ended her daughter’s enrollment at Glendale and enrolled her at PA Cyber Charter School in December 2012.

“She would still be at Glendale had it not been for bullying by a teacher that they let happen up there,” she said.

Beers’ request for her daughter to participate in the Glendale graduation ceremony has been a first, said high school principal Gary Walstrom.

“It’s never happened before. Our initial thought was they were attending another school. It would be like a student of another district walking at our commencement,” he said.

State law allows cyber school students to participate in their residential school district’s extracurricular activities. “That’s where the discussion and thought came in to refer this to our solicitor,” Walstrom said.

However, Glendale Solicitor Aimee Willett said commencement is not an extracurricular activity. It is connected to completion of a minimum number of academic credits.

“It comes down to the question of whether the child fulfills the requirements of the school’s policy, which defines what one has to do to graduate from Glendale School District,” Willett said. “I don’t think the child would meet Glendale’s graduation requirements.”

Including credits her daughter has earned from cyber school, Beers said she believes her daughter has earned more academic credits than Glendale requires.

Beers also said she feels the district’s decision to bar her daughter from the ceremony is unfair because she pays taxes to Glendale.

However, that tax money “follows the child,” as the slogan of many school choice proponents goes.

In accordance with state law, Glendale’s revenue, generated from taxes, directly pays for Beers’ daughter’s tuition to PA Cyber. In addition, the tuition paid by Glendale to PA Cyber is the exact amount Glendale would have spent to educate Beers’ daughter in the district’s own setting.

Beers said that when she removed her daughter from Glendale, the district was not pleased to have to pay tuition to the cyber school.