Fees preventing Charlotte HS students from attending graduation?
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CHARLOTTE COUNTY - Paying to graduate?
With three weeks to go, some Charlotte High School students are reeling from sticker shock after they found out how much it will cost to get their diploma.
Monica Finch, a senior, is worried some of her classmates may not be able to attend graduation because they can't afford the price-tag.
"I thought it was absolutely ridiculous," said Finch. "There's a lot of smart kids in the school and for them not to be able to walk because they cant afford that kind of money its really unfair."
Finch points to three graduation packages the school began selling last August. Students were given the choice between three non-refundable options which included the required cap and gown along with tickets to senior festivities.
The packages ranged in options - the cheapest is $125 and the most expensive is $330. Finch knows four students who won't be attending this year's ceremony to collect the degree they earned.
"For them to have to feel ashamed that they don't have that money and they can't walk [it] just makes them feel little," she said. "And [to] actually have to go to the school after graduation and have to pick up their diploma is outrageous."
Fox 4 reached out to Charlotte County School spokesman Mike Riley for answers.
"This is a package that has been presented to them back in August as part of their graduation," said Riley. "And they offered, even at that time, a payment plan."
Even with the plan, Finch says some students can't afford it. Riley says students who are on the free and reduced lunch program would be entitled to have their graduation fees waived minus the cost of the cap and gown.
"If a family is truly in need and they make contact with the principal," said Riley, "we'll work with them to make sure their student walks and graduates."
Riley says the principal will work with families who are in financial need but notes the school can't subsidize the cost of cap and gowns for a "large number of students."
The practice of charging "senior fees," Riley said, is nothing new and is done by other counties and schools.