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Pregnant Utah teen won't walk at graduation, feels mistreated despite completing credits

Pregnant Utah teen completes coursework for diploma, but won't get to walk at graduation. (Photo: Inez Aguado)

(KUTV) A pregnant Utah teen will not be walking at her graduation on Friday night in central Utah, but it's not because she didn't complete her required amount of credits.

“I feel like if I would have been someone bigger, like a star athlete or a student body officer, that they would have let me slide,” says Rebeca Aguado of Moroni who attends North Sanpete High School in Mount Pleasant, Utah.

She came home in tears on Monday after she says her school counselor told her despite finishing all of her required credits, she wouldn't be allowed to walk with her peers, but would be getting her diploma a few days later. He joked with her that she could come pick up her diploma on Friday night after the graduation ceremony. She doesn't expect special treatment because she is pregnant or because of her situation, she just feels like North Sanpete gave up on her.

Rebeca says some of her classmates who didn't have all their credits completed were allowed to walk and the school agreed to hold the students' diplomas until courses were completed in the summer. She took 15 online classes her senior year in addition to her regular course load to ensure that she would graduate.

“I was done before graduation,” Rebeca says. “There are students who didn't finish everything and they were allowed to walk when I wasn't.”

Rebeca isn't the only one with an unfair treatment complaint. The North Sanpete School District acknowledged there were several complaints this year from parents and students about not being able to walk at graduation.

“If they want to have policies – have them, but don't make exceptions,” Rebeca said. ”We all had the same deadline and they just made exceptions for specific students.”

North Sanpete denies any unfair treatment of students being allowed to walk. This is part of their response to claims certain students weren't treated equally. See the full statement embedded below.

"This year, multiple complaints regarding participation in graduation ceremonies have been investigated and all claims of unfair treatment have been found to be factually inaccurate," North Sanpete School District wrote in a statement.

The teen, who is three months pregnant and got married in April has been in tears since that situation with her counselor. Her mother, Inez Aguado, who also happens to work as a teacher's assistant for the North Sanpete School District at Moroni Elementary appealed the decision to the school principal, the school board and the superintendent — but to no avail.

She missed the May 19 deadline by not finishing her final test by 3 p.m., which all the students knew about. So Rebeca went back on Monday and retook the test and passed it.

No other response than the statement was given by the school district when 2News asked if it was true that some students who hadn't completed graduation requirements were still allowed to walk, while others weren't. At the beginning of the school year, Rebeca knew she had an uphill battle. Unless she worked hard to play catch up, she wouldn't graduate in May with her friends. Her school counselor offered multiple times to help her transfer to an alternative high school. But she was determined to prove she could earn her diploma. She says she averaged a 3.0 GPA her senior year.Rebeca says she feels like her high school gave up on her, specifically her guidance counselor. Inez Aguado, Rebeca's mother says she feels the counselor didn't provide her daughter who was in need of the most guidance help as a pregnant teen in high school. Instead he offered to send her to another school.“My counselor told me I wasn't going to graduate at the beginning of the school year, according to Rebeca. “He said, 'if you want I'll help you transfer to an alternative high school so you can actually graduate from a high school.'”She told him she would graduate no matter what odds she faced.“I feel like since the beginning he had this face like, 'OK, if you say so.'”Her counselor just doubted her, she says, adding that said since she was actually getting her work done and progressing that he seemed to work more and more against her.“He didn't even try for me to walk, Rebeca said. "I think he was just mad that I did it.”Her parents tried to see if the last high school she attended in Orem would let her walk there. Counselors at Mountain View tried but since she didn't attend a term during her senior year there, their policy wouldn't allow it. She said Mountain View tried harder to help her walk than her current school.“It was shocking that the school I attended two years ago are trying to help you walk and see you succeed … rather than my school,” Rebeca said.She wanted to walk not only to be honored like all the other kids, but to show her appreciation to her parents.“I kind of felt like it was something I owed them for everything they gave to me.”Aguado, said her daughter deserves the same treatment as all other students."That’s a big thing for all teenagers," Aguado said in a phone interview stating that getting to walk with their peers is seen as a bigger deal for a teen at the time than actually being awarded a diploma.Aguado says while her daughter didn't meet the deadline her counselor set for her, she still met the final deadline to get her diploma and doesn't think her daughter shouldn't be able to walk."I understand policies and I have to respect that. But she worked so hard," Aguado said. "Monday, when she completed everything she walked to her counselor’s office, he said, 'yes, you finished everything, too bad you aren’t walking,' and then he started laughing at her.”Aguado said the school district is standing behind their decision and says they have to about by their policies.“It’s not about the kids, it’s about the policy," Aguado said commenting on how she thought the school district viewed student grievances. "I think they need to focus more on the kids." She doesn't think the counselor used his position to help see a student succeed and to help them progress."He had the privilege of hearing from a pregnant girl that she had accomplished graduating and not dropping out, he could have said 'you did it congrats,' instead, he laughed in her face." Before Monday, she told her mother she was going to give up and not finish the final requirements, because she ran out of time while taking her last test on her Friday deadline."I was like you can’t give up.," Aguado said. "Do it for you, do it for your baby." Rebeca didn't give up and she completed everything. Even if the school district won't let Rebeca walk, Aguado says her family will hold a celebration for her on Saturday for her accomplishment."We’re going to have a party with her tomorrow cap and gown, because she did it and she deserves it."

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