HS students barred from graduation after community service forge - FOX 32 News Chicago

HS students barred from graduation after community service forgery scam

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(Photos by FOX 32's Craig Wall) (Photos by FOX 32's Craig Wall)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A graduation scandal will keep 48 students at Oak Lawn Community High School from graduating with the rest of their class on Wednesday night. The district superintendent says the students were caught in a scheme to falsify paperwork to fulfill community service requirements.

The father of one student, who asked not to be identified so as not to embarrass his son, blamed the school, claiming it failed to do a good enough job “mentoring the students.”

But District 229 Superintendent Michael Riordan, who also serves as the school’s principal said students are told starting at 9th grade orientation that they have to complete 24 hours of community service, and the reminders don’t stop there.

“We have an entire portion of our webpage and a counselor who is dedicated to keeping our students aware of the different resources that are available, ”Riordan said, “so they know where they can go to complete their service work. There's really just very little excuse to not be able to get that work done.”

The scheme surfaced last Thursday, the last day of classes for seniors, when a number of them turned in paperwork from the Stoney Creek Golf Course, that indicated they had done community service work there. But when school officials compared the signatures on those documents to one submitted last fall by other students they realized that someone had forged the signature of the golf course general manager.

Further investigation revealed 47 students had received or paid for the forged documents.

Senior Katie Mancillas, an honors student who completed all her service hours and then 30 additional hours required in her program, had an issue with her classmates lack of integrity.

“I feel bad because they kind of did it to themselves and going to mess stuff up for them but it is their own fault,” Macillas said

Her father said parents who are complaining that their kids won’t walk across the stage and get their diploma can’t blame the school.

“The parents had for years to get behind their kids to make sure they had this done, my wife and I made sure our daughters did it,” said Paul Mancillas.

He said those parents and their kids have to face the consequences of their actions.

“I understand they are disappointed not seeing their kids walk across the stage, but they should've thought about that over the last four years,”Mancillas said.

Ironically the student who provided all the forged signatures actually completed his 24 hours of community service. But he will also be barred from graduation as discipline for what he did.

“As frustrating as it is for all of us, including the parents, we do feel it's the right thing though to deny them that privilege, graduation certainly is a privilege, it's not a right. Kids have to earn that privilege by meeting both academic and service requirements,” Riordan said.

The students involved will be able to get their diplomas after legitimately completing their community service. Graduation is Wednesday at 7:00 PM at Shannon Center on the campus of St. Xavier University in Chicago.

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