After hearing emotional pleas from students and parents, the Tucson Unified School District denied a request to allow seniors who did not pass AIMS to walk in graduation ceremonies tonight.
Approximately 100 high school seniors are affected by the decision, having satisfied all other requirements to graduate with the exception of passing one or more portions of the state-mandated test.
TUSD Governing Board member Adelita Grijalva was the only one who supported the measure. Her motion at Tuesday night’s meeting to make the exception did not receive a second and died for lack of support.
Among dozens who attended the meeting were Tanya and Heriberto Salazar, who hoped their daughter could participate in graduation festivities. She is a Tucson High Magnet School student who worked to graduate from high school in only three years but fell short on the AIMS math test by one point.
They, like others, were not asking that these students receive their diplomas, but only that they be allowed to walk with their classmates.
Parents and students argued that students were not adequately prepared to pass the AIMS test or given enough notice to remedy the situation.
TUSD Assistant Superintendent Abel Morado, who oversees high schools, agreed that systemically enough may not have been done to ensure that students and parents across the district understood what was at stake and what options were available.
Morado said he will work to make systemic changes, but students will not have another opportunity to take the AIMS test again until October.
Last year, the Governing Board allowed an exemption for 140 seniors to participate in graduation, as a result of misinformation on how much weight the AIMS test really held.
At the time, it was emphasized that it was a one-time exception.
For the Salazars, any future improvements will come too late.
“The system failed her but it doesn’t reflect on who our daughter is,” Heriberto Salazar said. “We’re proud of her.”
Added Tanya Salazar: "This is an example of the bad things that happen in the world. This is not going to stop her, but it sucks that we can't give her this moment."
Contact reporter Alexis Huicochea at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4175.