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Shelton School Board Denies Family's Bid To Get Son's Diploma At Graduation

Eddy Tyler Conklin
Eddy Tyler Conklin Photo Credit: Contributed

SHELTON, Conn. — The Shelton Board of Education is standing behind its decision to not award a posthumous honorary diploma to the family of a student who died in a car crash this winter, according to the Shelton Herald.

The family of Edmund "Eddy" Conklin, 17, a senior and a basketball player at Shelton High, had requested that his name be read at the graduation ceremony June 10 and that they receive an honorary diploma.

But school board Chairman Mark Holden said that since 1980, only two of the 17 students who died before their graduations received posthumous diplomas at commencement and a third student's family received a diploma at home, the Herald reported.

Holden posted a statement on Facebook about the policy.

“On May 10, the  board agreed to start a new tradition — awarding an honorary diploma to the families of students who were in good standing, but died before meeting graduation requirements. Honorary diplomas have existed in other places, but all indications are this will be a first in Shelton. Our superintendent has seen similar tragedies in other districts. His recommendation, after discussion with the board, was to present honorary diplomas at the Senior Awards night," the post says.

"This is not just for the two instances this year, but will become our practice and be documented in our policy for the future,” Holden’s statement reads.

Kristjan Ndoj, a student who died in 2014 before his 2016 graduation, will also be honored at the Senior Awards night, the Shelton Herald said.

An online petition at Change.org calling for Shelton school officials to present a diploma at graduation has drawn nearly 7,500 signatures.

"The family has ... been given the run-around on this issue since March. They have supplied the BOE with other towns and facts to support their wishes for the honorary diploma and his name called with his fellow classmates during graduation," the petition says in part.

"Sometimes we need to put politics and policy aside and do what is right. Setting a precedent to honor someone's child will never be the wrong thing to do," it says.

Many comments on the Change.org petition support the move.

"The Shelton Board of Education needs to do the right, compassionate thing and allow Ed's parents to receive his degree at graduation so they can have closure," says Diane Turco.

Click here to read the story at the Shelton Herald.

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