Special needs students omitted from printed graduation program

STOUGHTON, Wisconsin -- Parents of students with disabilities say they were left out of a part of the high school graduation celebration.

A representative from the Stoughton School District says they left the names of the students with disabilities who would be participating in a transition program out of the printed graduation program. They were under the assumption that any form of writing about a diploma would make them ineligible for the program.

They were able to take part in the ceremony, but that doesn't stop the hurt parents felt at not seeing their child's name on the program.

"The Stoughton School District did wrong, very wrong by these kids," said Cathy Zimmerman, mother of Mitchell Zimmerman,19, a special needs student whose name was not on the program.

When she spoke to WMTV-TV, Zimmerman cried as she told them, "He wasn't supposed to survive birth, so he is 19 and graduated. (It is a) huge achievement for him."

The Stoughton School District said in a statement, "After consulting with the Department of Public Instruction we found that listing their names in the graduation program did not affect their eligibility for continuing in the transition program."

School officials say the pamphlets will be re-printed with names on them and mailed to the families.