District responds after G.P.H.S. senior excluded from graduation ceremony

Update: Read a statement made by Caleb Maler’s parents here: https://kobi5.com/?p=54558

Grants Pass, Ore – The parents of a Grants Pass High School student said the school “didn’t think it was appropriate” for their son to walk in the usual graduation ceremony.

The issue received heated reactions from the local community–it even made its way to the Oregon State Legislature

Addressing the Senate Chamber on June 7, Senator Sara Gelser said in part, “Imagine for a moment your name is Caleb Maler and you live in Grants Pass. And the Principal of Grants Pass High School called your parents and said you are not welcome to participate in the commencement exercise because you have autism and might be distracting to the other students.”

While the Maler’s understand why the school made the decision, they were worried that the day may not be as special for Caleb, with an empty audience and no friends to celebrate with. So the Maler’s extended an open invitation to Caleb’s ceremony to the entire community.

Sen. Gelser said the ceremony will be attended by “hundreds.”

Caleb will be receiving what is called an “extended diploma” that acknowledges the modified curriculum he has worked on for the past four years.

The Grants Pass School District issued the following statement on the morning of June 8:

Recently, the media has reported that the Grants Pass School District denies students access to traditional graduation ceremonies because of possible student disabilities. The District is unable to comment on any particular students or individual situations because of state and federal privacy laws. However, the district works to accommodate all students so that they may participate in a graduation ceremony that meets their needs and the wishes of the family.

There are a range of graduation ceremony options available to all graduating students, including students with disabilities. Accommodations are made for all students. Ceremony options include participating in the traditional Grants Pass High graduation, the Gladiola Alternative graduation, the GED ceremony, as well as personalized venues if that is what families would like.

The ultimate decision on the graduation ceremony and venue in most cases is up to the student and student’s family.

Given the recent significant media and public attention to this matter, the district has internally verified that all graduation ceremony options have always been available and will continue to be available to all students. The district works collaboratively with all of its families to create celebration ceremonies that honor the achievements of students. The district greatly appreciates the tremendously positive working relationship with our students and their families.

If you would like to join in celebrating Caleb, his graduation will be Friday, June 9th at 5 p.m. at Grants Pass High School.  Meet the Maler’s outside the Core Administration building in the Mel Ingram Field. 830 N.E. Ninth Street, Grants Pass.

You can also send a card addressed to Caleb Maler, 1897 Williams Hwy., #209, Grants Pass, OR 97527.

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