Cypress Ranch High School does everything it can to educate young minds and mold students into the leaders of tomorrow, and one important lesson the school apparently wants to teach is this: If you miss school because you got hit by a car while trying to save a dog from being hit by a different car, forget you, pal — that absence is going to count against you.
That's what an online petition with nearly 14,000 supporters suggests. Student Ben Snyder says his friend and classmate Monique Diaz has been unjustly denied an exemption from her final exams after Diaz was hit by a car May 8 while trying to save Snyder's dog, Jasper, who had been hit by a car. The dog later died.
Diaz allegedly went to the hospital to have her leg examined, and missed the rest of the day because she was shaken from seeing her friend's dog killed. Unfortunately for Diaz, this absence meant she didn't qualify for exemptions from finals. To qualify, students can't have more than three absences, among other requirements.
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Cy-Fair Independent School District Spokesperson Nicole Ray told the Houston Press, "We really do try to be fair to all students. They know at the beginning of the year what the policy is. ... Emergencies come up, and things happen that may cause you to miss school, and if you haven't planned for that, there goes your exemption."
While Ray said she was "extremely sympathetic" that Diaz hurt herself while doing a good deed, she reiterated that students are told right off the bat to think wisely about how to use their allowed absences: "People have deaths in the family, they have illnesses, there are things that are out of control that have happened, but when you have taken other days that you may not have necessarily had to take... this is a privilege. This is not a right. You earn this through attendance, grades, [and] conduct."
Speaking on Diaz's behalf, Snyder told the Press that Diaz took off the Friday and Monday bookending the senior prom weekend, and that she did not recall what her third absence was for. He added that, at this point, she's less concerned about her finals than about wanting the school district to reexamine the exemption policy, saying that it's unduly harsh on kids with legitimate absences — like illness or death in the family.
But we think maybe the district is doing right by Diaz — by preparing her for the cold, harsh realities of adult life, where bureaucracy, not independent thought, dictates outcomes. If anything, it should make other students think twice before trying to save an animal's life. After all, rules are rules.