WAYNE, NJ – On June 8, the Wayne Board of Education met in an emergency special session to discuss “legal challenges regarding graduation.” The BOE also discussed the Wayne Township graduation event that the Mayor announced on June 8.
The school district released a letter on June 9 to students and parents to clarify the intent of the graduation ceremony that they have scheduled on July 30.
The letter stated that the school district wants nothing more than to give the class of 2020 “the graduation they deserve.” However, the Board of Education and its employees cannot participate in the Township's graduation event based on legal advice.
The NJ Department of Education has strict guidelines when it comes to school sponsored graduation events and should the Wayne BOE, any teacher or principal participate in this event, it puts the district at risk “of the loss of funding and other sanctions from the Department of Education.”
The BOE’s letter went on to say: “We know how important a traditional graduation is for our seniors and their families, and we are optimistic about the future.”
Their optimism is based on the state restrictions that have been slowly easing. Currently, the rule is no outdoor gathering can have more than 25 people.
“However, in New York, these numbers have recently been upped to 150,” said Cathy Kazan, the Wayne BOE President. “And we typically follow directly behind New York. We’re hoping that by mid-July we’ll reach the 300 number for an outdoor event – socially distant."
Based on this, the district is “planning a full-scale graduation ceremony on July 30th with the participation of our administrators and staff members.”
So now there are multiple graduation events planned and the district admits that this “may cause our seniors some turmoil.”
“I’m sad,” said Kazan. “While their [The Township's] event is being touted as ‘the graduation our students deserve,’ I respectfully disagree. The graduation that our students deserve would be on their respective fields with their principals, with their teachers and all the people that they have gone through school with over the last four years.”
“I don’t feel that this event is in the spirit of a traditional graduation from the Wayne School System,” Kazan said, adding that this was her personal opinion.