|Updated: 3/11 5:23 pm
||Published: 3/11 3:41 pm
An Owasso mother is upset after the Owasso Public School district began charging students a fee to take part in the graduation ceremony.
She told FOX23’s Janna Clark she doesn’t think it’s right for her daughter to have to pay to walk across the stage and get her diploma, “We live with my mom because I can’t afford to live on my own.”
Susan is a single mother of two and recently lost her job. She was surprised to find out her daughter, an Owasso High School senior, had to pay a $15 fee to graduation.
“It’s a hardship not just for me but for other families in Owasso.” Susan says that fee is money she needs for food.
Susan’s daughter is too embarrassed to talk on camera, she talked to FOX23’s Janna Clark on the telephone.
“I went to school for 14 years, and I don't understand why I have to pay to walk across the stage and get my diploma... I think it's messed up that all of us that don't have the money have to still pay to get our diploma." She told Clark in an emotional conversation.
FOX23 checked with Tulsa, Union, Jenks, Broken Arrow, Sand Springs and Bixby school districts. Owasso is the only district that requires a graduation fee.
Owasso principal, Matt Roberts, says the fee is not new and he’s only heard one complaint about it this year. He says the fee helps offset some of the graduation costs. Roberts says last year’s graduation cost $16,000 to hold it at the ORU Mabee Center.
Roberts says the Mabee Center is the only place with enough seats for the event, if all 600 seniors pay $15 that pays for half the cost.
He says the district will work with families in times of financial need. “Owasso Public Schools would never deny the right to any student that have earned their credits to walk across the stage,” says Roberts.
The school’s website says if the students can’t pay the fee, they can’t walk at graduation. Roberts says if a student’s family can’t afford it the student just needs to talk to the senior sponsor about waiving the fee.