Late last week, Clayton County’s roughly 2,600 new high school graduates learned they would not receive a diploma during this last weekend’s commencement ceremonies at the Georgia World Congress Center. They walked across the stage and received empty diploma folders because Corrective Superintendent John Thompson was upset they contained the name and signature of former Interim Superintendent Gloria Duncan, not Thompson’s.
By Monday, Thompson was alleging that the diplomas were, in fact, not legally valid. “I felt as the superintendent of the school system, I had to do what is right and not hand out the diplomas,” Thompson said. “These students have fought through three or four superintendents, so I thought it was fair to honor them with a diploma that is correct. What does it matter if it costs $25,000, $50,000, or $1 million, if you are providing children with something that will last for a lifetime? If wanting to do the right thing for the children is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.”
The new diplomas were ordered, with additional expense paid for postage. The students can now “choose” which diploma they want.
[UPDATE: 4 June 2008] As expected daily down there, now there is an ethics complaint against Thompson. Indeed, the Ethics in Government Group asked the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which oversees teacher certification, to investigate superintendent John Thompson.
Unfortunately, there’s a catch: “Cassandra Moore, of the professional standards commission, said the state has no jurisdiction over Thompson because he has not received his certification to teach in Georgia. She said the commission likely will not take any action until Thompson completes his certification application.”