County Derails Monrovia High’s June 3 Graduation Plan
By Terry Miller
MUSD appeals county’s decision to NOT allow graduation plan
Monrovia High Principal Kirk McGinnis recently published a YouTube video announcing plans for the official 2020 graduation and how grads would receive their diplomas during this pandemic.
In the course of the video, McGinnis, sitting at an empty campus, detailedthe school’s innovative plans while attempting to adhere to state and localhealth and safety guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
During difficult times, occasionally come ingenious albeit ambitiousideas. Enter Monrovia High School’s 360 Plan to essentially have a drive-upgraduation where students can pick up their diploma, shoot a picture, and thendash back to the car to let the next graduate in line receive their diploma,and so on.
To do this, the city, police department and the school district wentthrough countless scenarios and ultimately came up with what they believe is aworkable plan to keep everyone safe while receiving their diplomas in extremelyunprecedented times.
Initially, the plan was for 2020 graduates to be honored by the sportsstadium lights shining each Wednesday at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes and then,with a little luck, receive their diplomas on June 3 during a drive-thru eventthat had been carefully planned to meet county COVID-19 conditions.
However, on Friday, a joint statement was issued by Los Angeles CountyDirector of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer and Los Angeles CountySuperintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Duardo on in-person graduation ceremonies, creatinga problem for Monrovia’s plans.
“The healthand safety of our County’s students, staff and families are top priorities forall of us.
“The LosAngeles County Department of Public Health Officer’s Safer at Home Orderprohibits all public and private gatherings. The Order does not allow anyexemptions for graduation gatherings of any type in order to limit the spreadof COVID-19. This means all in-person graduation ceremonies, including use ofcars for drive-in graduations (even if one student at a time), are consideredpublic gatherings and are therefore prohibited. Virtual ceremonies arepermitted and encouraged as a means of commemorating this important life eventfor young people and their families.
“We fullyappreciate how disappointing it is for all our graduates to be denied the recognitionthey deserve for their academic achievement. It is unfortunate that such animportant rite of passage has to take place virtually during this pandemic, andwe deeply regret the heartache this may cause our students and their families.
“The LosAngeles County Office of Education does not have the authority to direct how adistrict or school will handle its graduation ceremonies. These are localdecisions that will need to be made in compliance with the Safer at Home order.
“We areconfident the education community will find creative ways to virtuallycelebrate the Class of 2020 while protecting everyone’s health and safety.”
Monrovia Weekly reached out Monday to McGinnis. “Obviously we are upsetthat the public health department, Friday, issued the prohibition of ourplanned graduation on June 3. We are meeting with the school board andsuperintendent of schools this afternoon to address concerns and hopefully asolution to this.”
Right now, the graduation plan is at an appeals process with thecounty, according to McGinnis.
School Board President Rob Hammond told Monrovia Weekly Monday that thedistrict, in consort with all other agencies in the city of Monrovia, met andexceeded the county health department’s recommendations for a safe graduation.
Hammond has reached out to Supervisor Kathryn Barger explaining thedilemma the district is faced with. Hammond said there is nothing moreimportant than the safety of the students during this pandemic and will abideby the rules and regulations but feels there needs to be a full explanation andreason behind the county’s decision not to allow the plan to go ahead.
“We have a right and a responsibility to question authority… this is acivics lesson,” Hammond told Monrovia Weekly in a telephone interview. Hammond believesthe county has “overreached” in this matter and firmly believes that the districthas done everything with its power to follow county health and safety guidelines.
“I’m cautiously optimistic. We have appealed to Supervisor KathrynBarger for a full explanation on the county’s decision, and await her responseon how we may go on with our plans to honor the 2020 graduates,” Hammond said.
NOTE: This is a developing story and we will update when we have moreinformation from the county and MUSD.