Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Premont - Caps and gowns, graduation pictures and invitations are the only memories some Premont seniors will have to hold on to because walking across the stage for them will not be a reality.

The school board voted 4-2 in a special meeting Wednesday to keep the policy in place and not allow the students to walk the stage because they didn't pass portions of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, known as the TAKS test.

One board member abstained from voting.

Parents of three seniors who did not pass the state exam voiced their concern at the Premont school board meeting Wednesday night. The parents pleaded with the board to allow their children to walk the stage because they had received the total amount of credits needed to graduate.

Linda Sanchez, one of the parents, read a letter to the board.

"All the children are asking is to be given a chance to celebrate their accomplishments over the 12 years with their fellow classmates and their families," Sanchez read to the board. "…Think of how devastating it would be to you to not have graduated after going through 12 years of school and on the A-B honor roll. All these children hope for is to be dressed in red and white and walk across a stage of plywood."

Board members discussed the policy and during the vote, the majority decided to keep the policy in place, therefore not allowing the students to walk across the stage.

"This was brought to our attention last year," Yvonne Sanchez, a board member, said. "I have a problem changing policy two days before graduation."

Board member Carmela Garcia, who was one of two who voted to change the policy, disagreed.

"The irony is that the test will not be here in two years," she said. "I feel that if they passed their high school curriculum, than it's O.K. with me."

After the vote, many of the parents left the meeting.

"Our kids would do better if there were certified teachers," said Belinda Arredondo, who has a senior who will not walk the stage. "I'm pulling my child out of school."

Another parent said the decision was not fair.

"I am very upset," Analisa Munoz said. "I will show up at graduation and if anything is going on illegal, I will sue the school."