School Denies Graduation Walk for Special Needs Student, District Apologizes

A special needs senior walked the stage at Harlandale High School's graduation. But that's not his school.

A special-needs senior walked the stage at Harlandale High school's graduation on Thursday. The only problem is, that's not his school.

Matthew Rocha was turned away from his own graduation on Wednesday after the school forgot to put his name on the graduate list.

According to his family, Rocha showed up to his graduation all dressed up in his green cap and gown, which was purchased months ago.

“I did everything right,” Rocha said. “I just don't understand why I couldn't walk the stage.”

Rocha’s aunt, Lucy Ruiz, said his name wasn’t on the program and that the family was asked to leave.

“We had 22 people that were there for Matt that were going to cheer him on,” Ruiz said.

Rocha attended the Jewel C. Wietzel Center, but his family says that his main school has always been McCollum High School. In fact, he went there his freshman year, as did many of his family members, including Rocha’s late mother.

“When he found out he wasn't going to graduate, the first thing he said was, ‘How is momma going to know now that it’s on a different night?’” Ruiz recalled.

A spokesperson for Harlandale ISD said that there was a break in communication between the two schools.

In a statement to KENS 5, the district apologized for the situation:

“Harlandale Independent School District makes every effort to ensure we are acting in the best interest of our students. We sincerely apologize for the situation and we have spoken with the family and have made arrangements to honor the accomplishments of our graduate, Matthew. Our partnership with the family will continue as Matthew prepares for his post-secondary career. We are extremely proud of him and we want to thank the family for their understanding, cooperation and continued support as we celebrate him.”
-Harlandale ISD

The district allowed Rocha to walk at Thursday’s Harlandale High School graduation, but Rocha says that the damage is done.

“There's no such thing as going back in time.”

© 2017 KENS-TV


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