Diploma Denied & Other School Board Business

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

The family of murdered teen Bradley Berogan is once again denied his official Auburn High School diploma. Berogan was killed in what police call a gun deal gone bad in late April, just 19 days before graduation.
The board voted four to two Tuesday night not to reconsider the way Berogan's grades were tallied toward his graduation requirements. That's despite protests from dozens of friends and family members and their testimony during the meeting asking for his diploma.
The school board voted May 25th to ask Superintendent Dennis Thompson to collect Berogan's final grades and award him a diploma if he had enough credits. Before his death, Berogan did have enough credits to pass. However, after his death he was scored zeros for all incomplete work. Those zeros mean Berogan no longer had passing grades. The board awarded a memorial diploma instead and they're standing by that choice.
"This is a very tragic situation. It's been very difficult for the board. But I felt that it had been addressed and I did not get any indication from the board members as we saw tonight that they wanted to reevaluate," says School Board President Nancy Kalchbrenner.
Diane Berogan, Bradley's mother counters, "I guess I'll just have to get a lawyer. I didn't want to have to do that because the district doesn't need all this extra mess going on but if that's what they want I guess that's what I'm going to have to do."
Board members are divided over exactly what their May 25th directive was to Dr. Thompson. Member Jay Nellis says he never expected Dr. Thompson to include grades after Berogan's death, while Kalchbrenner says that was part of the deal. She added that it's important a student completes all work until the end of the year and the board worried awarding a diploma to someone who did not would set a bad precedent. Nellis says he plans to pursue the issue further.
Other business at Tuesday night's board meeting included two issues affecting elementary school students.
Board members will consider next week changing assessment schedules so that students would get three report cards instead of four. The theory is that this would allow for more uninterrupted learning as well as align assessments with standardized testing.
Also, on the topic of school choice in elementary schools, the board's newest member, Jeanne Westholder, said she wants the superintendent to state, in writing, how much public input will go into the pending transition to elementary school zones.
"What is the process, have we made sure that we're reaching everyone in the community that is going to be impacted by the decisions that are made? As long as we're doing that we can make good decisions. If we're not then we're meeting the needs of some people and we're excluding others," says Westholder.
The board voted four to two not to ask Dr. Thompson to define how much public input there will be. Many community members felt there was not enough communication leading up to the implementation of school zones in middle and high schools. That new system goes into effect this fall.
Finally at Tuesday night's meeting, an update on the condition of the school district's facilities. The district has close to 89-million dollars in repairs it would ideally like to make. But the operations and maintenance committee expects to have a nearly 12-million dollar deficit by the end of this year.


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