Verona school board to decide whether senior can walk in graduation
The Verona Area School Board will meet Saturday morning to decide whether a student who is one half-credit short for graduation can walk in the school’s graduation ceremony Sunday.
The family of Noah Currier told WISC-TV the board will meet at 9 a.m. Saturday to decide the fate of Noah Currier.
Members of Verona Area High School’s Class of 2016 are rallying around Currier and have started online and paper petitions to the district, which combined have gotten over 1,000 signatures as of Thursday night.
The half-credit is a geometry class Noah’s mother, Christina Currier-Sager, said he will finish two weeks after graduation. After finishing the class, Noah will receive his high school diploma.
Noah has an immune disorder called hypogammaglobulinemia. Currier-Sager said it makes him more susceptible to infections and viruses than the average person.
“A common cold isn’t a common cold to Noah,” Currier-Sager said.
Currier-Sager said it can take 15-20 days for Noah to recover from everyday illnesses like the common cold. She said that, along with intravenous treatments at the hospital every three weeks, causes him to miss class on a regular basis.
Because of his condition, Noah has a 504 individual accommodation plan with the district, which allows him to turn in work late for full credit and to not be counted absent from class if he meets certain goals.
Noah was first diagnosed with hypogammaglobulinemia in middle school, following regular absences from class. He said not all of his classmates were understanding at first.
“I was at the point where I just didn’t want to go to school,” Noah said. “There was rumors flying everywhere. I was called ‘AIDS boy’ a few months, because people didn’t understand what was going on.”
Noah first learned that he wouldn’t be taking part in graduation last week while on his senior class trip.
“Noah was pulled off the bus in front of the whole bus full of seniors,” Currier-Sager said.
On Thursday morning, Noah said he tried to take part in VAHS’ official graduation rehearsal ceremony.
He said he was escorted out by an administrator and a school resource officer.
“They pulled me out and then took me to the school in the back of (the officer’s) squad car,” Noah said. “I was about to ask them, ‘Am I being arrested? Am I being charged with trespassing or something?'”
Days after Noah learned he would not be allowed to walk at graduation, Verona Superintendent Dean Gorrell sent an email to Currier-Sager reiterating that Noah would not be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony because “he has not met the credit requirements to graduate.”
A spokesperson for the Verona Area School District said officials could not comment on the matter, citing student confidentiality.
Noah said the support from classmates has been “astonishing.”
“It says a lot,” he said. “It says I chose great company. It says I chose the right people.”
After the Thursday incident, Currier-Sager said she received a text from the mother of one of Noah’s friends that said students shouted “Let Noah walk!” after he was escorted away from the ceremony.
“I just put it in front of him,” Currier-Sager said. “He read it and you don’t see Noah cry much. He’s a strong kid. He had to leave the room.”
That chant has turned into the social media hashtag #LetNoahWalk.
Noah and his mother said they hope the petitions and shows of support will convince the district to reverse its decision.
“These are educators,” Currier-Sager said. “These are people who have decided to put their life into educating children, no matter their age, and they are bullying him and making things harder for him, and that’s not what educators should do.”
“If anything, I don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” Noah said. “Even if I don’t get to walk on Sunday, I don’t want this to happen to anybody else that comes through the Verona system.”
Noah said he plans to attend Madison College after receiving his diploma this summer and eventually move onto University of Wisconsin-Madison. He said his goal is to become a history teacher.