HOUSTON — A student ready to graduate with honors is stripped of her ceremony. Now the first-generation college student is worried it could impact her plans to attend University of Houston.
Perla Lopez's graduation gown still hangs in the living room of her family's apartment on the southwest side. On the gown are several honor cords, a silver one Lopez pointed out she got for being in the top 10 percent of her class.
"The whole year I've been thinking, I'm good for graduation, I'm good for graduation," said Lopez, a senior at Sharpstown High School.
She already has several acceptance letters and set her heart on attending UH in the fall with grant money.
"It's hard because when you live in a place like the southwest, it's not as easy because you have to work to help the family out," Lopez said.
However, those plans are now on hold.
"I just started crying like crazy," she said.
Lopez said school leaders told her last week she needed one more class.
"I remember feeling sad, feeling angry, I remember feeling like this isn't fair," she said.
The kicker? It was a theater class she was enrolled in until Lopez said her counselor told her it was one she could drop.
"Something that really hurt me is I would always ask them, are you sure all my credits are good? Are you sure you don't need me to take any more classes?" she said.
In a community where getting good graduation rates is a focus, Lopez wonders how four years of hard work comes down to this.
"I was supposed to be there with my friends, taking the pictures, seeing my old teachers -- something I can't do anymore," she said.
KHOU 11 reached out to HISD, and a spokesperson sent us this statement:
"HISD is looking into this unfortunate matter. Due to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) considerations, we are unable to comment further."
Meantime, Lopez plans to attend summer school. Her goal is to still get to UH in the fall to major in hotel and restaurant management.
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