OPELOUSAS, La. (KLFY) – UPDATE, May 17: Gavin Thompson’s father, Jodie Thompson, told News 10 that they and the superintendent have reached an agreement for Gavin to participate in a district-scheduled graduation in July.
The Thompson family sent News 10 the following message as an update to Gavin’s situation:
“As a family, We would like to say thank you to everyone that supported our son’s story. It truly meant a lot to have so much love and support from communities everywhere.
The following is the outcome:
Today we met with superintendent Mr. Jenkins and came to amicable agreement for Gavin to walk. While he will not be walking on the 20th of May, he will be walking in July at a district scheduled graduation which is all he wanted. To be allowed to take his walk.”Jodie Thompson
ORIGINAL POST, May 13: A concerned Opelousas parent is speaking out after discovering their son can not participate in graduation festivities or walk across the stage.
Every student’s dream is to walk across the graduation stage to receive their diploma. Still, for one student Gavin Thompson, 18, at Magnet Academy for Cultural Arts, that dream may not become a reality.
“Push this child aside and say 14 years doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It’s ridiculous,” said Jodie Thompson, father of Gavin Thompson.
Thompson says he was devastated to hear the news regarding his son. He explains the school said Gavin had skipped class and a graduation practice walk meeting, causing him to be canceled out of walking with his class for graduation and attending the senior banquet.
“He didn’t skip the day. He was with his gifted teacher, where he goes every Tuesday, and he’s been doing that for several years,” Thompson said.
The class is for Gavin’s mental health, and he said he feels like the school discriminates against him because of it.
“It’s very upsetting. I’m being singled out because of my mental illness,” said Gavin Thompson. He said that the senior package information does not say the meeting was mandatory.
“I’m a concerned parent. I’m also an educator here in this system, but I’m a parent first, and that is my child. He’s a part of this system, and I hope that the district will start taking mental illness seriously,” Jodie Thompson said.
Jodie Thompson said the family sent emails and went to the school board about the matter and is getting nowhere.
“We went through the channels trying to communicate who we need to. To find out if we can get any kind of help or if anybody can listen,” Thompson said. “It’s like we are getting nowhere, and time is running out because next week is the 18th for the banquet and the walk is on the 20th, and here we are Friday, and we got the weekend and all of our friends and family. They are assuming that they’re going to see him walk, and at this point, nobody can watch him walk. He can’t even walk.”
Thompson said when he tried to explain to the school principal about his son’s mental illness, she said that “Rules are rules, and she’s not making an exception because if she makes an exception for him, she has to make an exception; for everybody,” he explained.
Gavin’s graduation walk means a lot to the family. “He’s walking for our family, and I say that with pride because I didn’t finish high school. Nobody on my family’s side has ever done the walk and graduated, and he would be the first one,” his father said. “It would devastate me. I know it would mentally impact him because it’s his work, but he should be able to take that walk with pride, knowing that I did 14 years, and this is my last walk before I go ahead off to college.”
For Gavin, the walk is symbolic of the finish of his four years in education.