A special school board meeting will be held sometime this week to discuss whether Liberty Ranch High School's Class of 2013 will be allowed to hold its graduation ceremony at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.
The request to switch dates with Estrellita High School due to a scheduling conflict at the Sacramento venue was denied by school board trustees last Tuesday. It would have allowed the school the option to hold its commencement ceremony at the auditorium in the evening.
"Their reasons for not approving the date change were petty," parent Kristi MacLeod said. "The principal was not aware a date change needed board approval, and as soon as he found out, he brought it before the board."
Since last week's board meeting, new Superintendent Matthew Roberts said in an email Monday that the district has received several emails from parents. Additionally, a number of parents, including MacLeod, gave verbal comments on the graduation date change at a special, unrelated board meeting held last Thursday.
The board appreciated receiving input, and requested the issue be placed on yet another special meeting agenda later this week, according to Roberts.
At last week's board meeting, some trustees felt the decision to once again hold the ceremony out of town had already been made and the school only came to the board for approval after being told to do so by Roberts.
At the meeting, Liberty Ranch Principal Brian Deis addressed the board explaining why the school needed the date change; the venue is unavailable in the evening on the original graduation date. He said he had discussed the issue with Estrellita Principal Tony Lara, who was fine with switching graduation dates.
But both trustee Kathleen Amos and board president Art Oelsner felt proper procedures were not followed before the issue came before trustees. Amos also voiced concerns over changing tradition by mixing up the order of graduations for the district's three high schools.
Neither could be reached Monday.
Trustee Angela DaPrato was the only school board member to support the date change. Trustee Mark Beck was absent.
In August, Class of 2013 student body officers at Liberty Ranch unanimously voted to hold the school's second graduation at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium after Deis said students looked at four locations including not only the Liberty Ranch campus, but also Galt High School and the California Correctional Officer training facility on Twin Cities Road.
After much discussion, the students voted unanimously to schedule graduation at the auditorium.
The decision to hold last year's graduation there caused an upheaval between school board members who wanted the inaugural graduation to be special and others concerned with possible higher costs and accessibility to friends and family wishing to attend the ceremony. Among additional costs was paying for a chartered bus necessary to transport students for graduation practice and the actual ceremony.
But MacLeod said everyone she knows, including her husband, district teacher Devon MacLeod, loved attending graduation at the Sacramento auditorium last year. There were no worries about hot weather, the seats were comfortable and audience members with disabilities were accommodated, she said.
"I would love to have a nice facility at Liberty Ranch where we could graduate at home, but we don't," she said, referring to the lack of seating and lights on the school's sports fields.
Amos, who along with DaPrato voted last year against holding the ceremony in Sacramento, felt it would set a precedence for future graduating classes, as well as funnel sales tax revenue spent by students' families on gifts and dinner before the ceremony from Galt to Sacramento. Amos also took issue with holding the event outside city limits, when she said there are city parks and other facilities available.