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Mom: Son Missing Graduation Because of Lost Textbook

Principals can withhold diplomas, grades and transcripts if textbooks are willfully damaged per San Diego Unified School District policy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    One Serra Mesa parent is outraged after she was told her son can’t walk in his 8th grade graduation ceremony. She says it’s all because her son lost a textbook. NBC 7’s Vanessa Herrera reports.

    A San Diego woman says she's been told her son won't be allowed to walk in his 8th grade graduation ceremony-- all because of a lost textbook.

    Keri Park’s son, a student at Taft Middle School in Serra Mesa, checked out some textbooks in September 2013. When he went to return his books last week, he had unknowingly lost one of them.

    Park says she didn't find out she owed $143.34 until just days before her son’s graduation.

    "I'm willing to pay the money. I've said that from the very second I found out about it. I just need some time to pay it,” the single mom told NBC 7.

    After first being told it was too late to settle the fine, Park said she received a letter with a handwritten note that reads, "Payment plan offered to parent so promotional activities can be given.”

    Park says she’s not exactly sure what the payment plan is. She claims the school’s principal asked if she could pay “a good chunk” of the bill. She says when she asked what that meant, she wasn’t given a clear answer.

    NBC 7 called Taft Middle School's principal for comment.

    The principal’s secretary took a message and a short time later, a spokesperson for the San Diego Unified School District sent NBC 7 a link with the district's policy on textbooks.

    The policy states there will be no charge if the loss or damage to a book is beyond a student's control but if there is "willful" damage, a principal can withold diplomas, grades or transcripts.

    However, it also says the principal should also make arrangements for a payment plan by a date agreed upon with the child's parent or draft a schedule so the student can "work off" the cost of the damaged book.

    Park thinks the school’s policy should change for single moms like her, who can’t afford to fork out that kind of money on such short notice.

    "It should be about the students achieving their goals in academics, not money. It always seems to go back to the money with schools and the district, and it's broken."

    On Tuesday, Park's son was not allowed to go on a field trip, which she said was already paid for, due to the lost textbook.

    The school agreed to put the $17 paid for the field trip toward the balance of the lost book.

    Taft Middle School’s 8th grade promotion is scheduled for June 13.