Graduates, parents upset after Far South Side school makes last-minute graduation changes

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Safety concerns forced changes Wednesday at graduation on Chicago's Far South Side.

Those changes led to some complaints from students and parents.

High school graduation is a milestone you don't forget, but for the 2022 graduates of Perspectives Leadership Campus, their ceremony is one they would like to forget.

"To go through a graduation that is not even 5-10 minutes is crazy to me," said Bradley Fizer Jr., a 2022 graduate.

The ceremony, with the entire class and their families, was canceled at the last minute for safety concerns and was replaced with a format that allowed 10 graduates at a time without their families.

"And they let us know 24 hours in advance. I have six family members that came from out of town for this. They flew in for the ceremony," said parent Kieta Archibald.

In an email sent to parents, Principal Eron Powell said the staff made the change due to recent safety concerns within the school community.

"This decision comes as a result of the cumulative impact of incidents and threats to our community. It is with a heavy heart we have made the decision," Powell said in the letter.

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According to Chicago police, there was an incident last Friday during the school day when an 18-year-old female hit and sprayed mace on another female. The offender was charged with a misdemeanor.

Parents and students were livid about the decision.

"It's just messed up because this might be their only graduation. They might not go to college and walk again," said 2022 graduate Darrion Jones.

"I think it's shameful," said fellow parent Bradley Fizer, "to make a decision of this magnitude and cheat everyone out of this moment."

Jalon Lamar was hoping to walk across the stage and show off his academic achievement cords and medal with his family.

"I celebrated this myself. I didn't do this by myself. I wanted everyone who helped me come and see me walk across the stage," he said.

After many complaints, parents only were eventually allowed to watch their kids graduate.

"We let them know we weren't standing for it," said another parent, Latrina Jones.

With only 10 graduates at 15-minute intervals, graduation lasted all day. And to add insult to injury, by mid-afternoon, rain forced the modified ceremonies inside.
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