Straight-A Student Loses Legal Fight to Walk At High School Graduation

"There is no constitutional right to walk the stage," Judge Rusch said.

ByAlexis Shaw
June 03, 2013, 10:51 AM

June 3, 2013— -- A straight-A student at the top of her class has lost her legal battle to walk at her high school graduation after she was barred from the ceremony because she was allegedly drinking alcohol at her prom.

Lauren Green, 18, of McKinney, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the McKinney Independent School District, alleging that school administrators sent her and a group of her friends home from the prom for reportedly drinking before the event.

As a result, she and her friends have to attend a disciplinary alternative school for no more than 30 days, forcing her to miss walking the stage at graduation to receive her diploma this coming Friday.

According to court documents, Green alleges that she was "never addressed individually [by administrators], nor ever afforded an opportunity to take a breathalyzer" at the prom on May 11 to prove that she had not been drinking.

Collin County District Court Judge Mark Rusch dismissed Green's lawsuit at a hearing on Friday to determine whether or not she should be removed from alternative school and transferred back to McKinney High's main campus, which would allow her to walk at graduation.

Rusch stated the court could only address a school punishment that involved a student who was expelled or denied a diploma, ABC affiliate WFAA-TV reported.

In the suit, Green stated that she is an Advanced Placement honor student with a 3.98 GPA who has never been in trouble before. She argued that the district unfairly denied her right to an education as well as participating in graduation ceremonies.

Green's lawyer was clearly unhappy with the court's ruling.

"Obviously if the court doesn't have any jurisdiction over this, who else is going to overlook the McKinney Independent School District when they're shafting a bunch of kids?" Green's attorney, Julie Krenek told ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV.

But Mari McGowan, an attorney for the district, told ABC News that every year, the district alerts their students about staying out of trouble before graduation.

"This district in particular makes it very clear to seniors, 'Guys, finish strong. You want to finish strong because graduation is coming and we don't want any mistakes to keep you from walking,'" McGowan said.

McGowan said that despite Green's allegations in the suit that she had not consumed alcohol before attending the prom, Green had previously admitted that she had been drinking.

While McKinney ISD declined to comment on the lawsuit, it stated that if "a student's actions or behavior is found to be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, then we focus on enforcing the code promptly, fairly and consistently."

"The district has the right to limit a student's participation in graduation activities for violating the district's code," McKinney's code of conduct states.

A student must be placed in disciplinary alternative school, according to the code, if the student "possesses, uses, or is under the influence of alcohol."

For seniors who are placed in alternative school for a behavioral issue around the time of graduation, "the placement in the program will continue through graduation, and the student will not be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony and related graduation activities," the code states.

McGowan said that the district has done everything to make sure Green's spotless record was not harmed in the disciplinary process.

"The district has made sure she's gotten all her assignments, that she's able to complete all her courses, take her exams, complete all of her course work, and will not be harmed in any way academically," McGowan said. "This is a function of not participating on the day of graduation."

McGowan said that this incident would never appear on Green's transcript.

"We are not depriving the student of graduating," McGowan said. "Certainly it is unfortunately because this is an outstanding kid.

"She's a great kid, but even great kids make a mistake once in a while," she said.

ABC News' attempts to reach Green, her mother and her father were not successful. Calls to Green's attorney, Julie Krenek, were not immediately returned.

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