Diploma Dilemma: Family demands diploma for deceased son
Written by Shelley Russell, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
MANCHESTER (KWWL) -
A northeast Iowa family lost their 17-year old son, Travis Krapfl, to muscular dystrophy last September.
It was the beginning of his senior year, and his parents said he was set to graduate on time.
His father, Chris, said his son had already narrowed down two colleges and was going to decide where he'd attend by Christmas.
"He loved everything about school," said his 14-year old sister Kayla Krapfl.
Kayla posted a status on her Facebook page, reading in part:
"Yesterday, we found out that he wouldn't be getting a diploma because he didn't have enough credits and all he needed was to take government which he had scheduled later this school year. I think he should get it because he deserved it. I want to make this viral and I want my brother's story out. I don't agree with the school's decision because my brother worked really hard for it and it is not his fault that he didn't get to finish out the school year. My parents and I are devastated over this. I ask for all of your help to get this out and maybe they will change their mind."
Kayla said her Facebook status was shared with hundreds of people across the country.
"It's not like he just dropped out of school or just quit," she said. "He wanted to go to school. He wanted to make the best of everyday. He loved going to school. He loved meeting new people at school."
Kayla and her parents are frustrated with administrators at the West Delaware County Community Schools because they feel Travis would have earned his diploma had he lived long enough to see his graduation commencement in a few weeks.
But school administrators said they can't hand out a diploma with Travis Krapfl's name on it due to school policies and state laws.
Additionally, administrators said it wouldn't be fair.
"It order to be cognizant of the feelings of all of our families who have lost children, we want to be consistent," said Superintendent Kristen Rickey.
"We care very much about Travis as well as all the others who have experienced loss, and we show that caring and by being consistent in the way we recognize people," she said.
Rickey said Travis Krapfl will be honored during the upcoming 2013 commencement with a rose on stage and a spot in the commencement program.
She said the former student was recognized on a homecoming float as well as in the school's yearbook, and he will have a profile published in the newspaper along with other graduating seniors.
"I hope that people understand that we are very caring not only towards Travis but towards all of our students," said Rickey.
"And the best way to show respect for everyone is to treat everyone equitably and have the same sorts of honors and recognition," she said.
But for the Krapfls, who admit it's still hard to deal with the loss of Travis, they want more.
"What's the harm of having a piece of paper just with his name on it?" asked Chris.
"That would mean everything to us. That would give us some more closure of what he accomplished," he said.
The Krapfls told KWWL's Shelley Russell they plan on talking with lawmakers in Des Moines this week so that other families don't have to experience similar frustrations.
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