SAN PEDRO — Students who had their formal graduation cut short last week at San Pedro High School held their own ceremony Wednesday at Peck Park, while some of their parents planned a meeting for today to rally support for a protest of the aborted ceremony.
Jack Dimon, one of the parent organizers, said parents of the 560 graduates will be urged to make a "concerted effort to see that this disgraceful episode is not swept under the rug." The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the Community Center at Peck Park.
Dimon and other parents have called for the dismissal of Principal Bruce Rhoades, who led a faculty walkout in the middle of commencement exercises on the school's athletic field June 18. The incident is under review by senior administrators of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Rhoades has said that student rowdiness and disrespectful behavior toward faculty members, including the shouting of obscenities, prompted his decision to withdraw from the June 18 ceremonies. Diplomas were handed out later in the school gym.
Parents contend that Rhoades overreacted to the youthful exuberance of the graduates at the official event and thus deprived them of an important experience. If there was any misbehavior, Dimon and other parents say, it involved a small minority.
"Dr. Rhoades showed utter contempt for the graduates and their parents," Dimon said. "At the least, he should have given some warning of what he was going to do, instead of just walking out."
Assistant Principal Rey Mayoral said after the incident that administrators were concerned that an announcement might have provoked a riot in which people might have been injured. Moreover, he said, steady chanting and screaming on the football field made it virtually impossible to communicate with the students.
The district's review of the San Pedro incident may be completed in about two weeks, according to Dan Isaacs, superintendent of the senior high school division. He said he has interviewed Rhoades twice and talked with dozens of parents and others about the incident.
"We're trying to determine objectively what happened and then decide whether any changes in procedures are needed to avoid a repetition," Isaacs said.
Isaacs said his report will be forwarded to Sid Thompson, associate superintendent of school operations, who is expected to review it with district Supt. Harry Handler.