The Ogden School District is within its rights to bill students for "attendance credit loss" and "U-grade policy" fees before a graduating senior can participate in official graduation ceremonies. As long as notice is provided that the fees have to be paid, parents and students need to comply.
The Utah Constitution clearly states that fees in public secondary schools can be authorized. According to Carol Lear, Utah State Office of Education attorney, charging fees has been going on for at least 20 years.
We have sympathy for parent Yolanda Valdez, and others, who receive unwelcome surprises that attendance and U grade infractions by their children result in a large bill that must be paid. But it's the responsibility of the student to follow the rules and if that doesn't occur, then it's appropriate that parents also have to face the monetary consequences.
It's important to note that the penalty does not include the forfeiture of the diploma. Valdez has expressed dissatisfaction at having received a bill from the district for $525 in fees accumulated by her daughter, Annissia. The bill includes fines for receiving U grades. Valdez says that she believes that many of the U grades are for excused absences that were incorrectly noted.
According to Valdez, she didn't learn about the fees until April 28, and adds that an offered alternative -- complying with the fee by performing community service -- arrived too late to be of use. If that complaint has merit, then perhaps the district needs to do a better job of notifying parents of their children's fines. However, the rules need to be followed.
At the same time, Ogden School District spokesperson Donna Corby's terse reply to media inquiries that the district refuses to provide information on its U-grade policy is ridiculous. It's yet another example of the district leadership's rocky relationship with students and their parents.