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South Bay Digest

San Pedro : Principal's Act 'Justified'

July 31, 1986

Bruce Rhoades, principal of San Pedro High School, has been cleared by senior administrators of charges that he acted wrongly in cutting short the school's graduation on June 18 in response to student rowdiness.

Spokesman Bill Rivera of the Los Angeles Unified School District said reports of numerous witnesses indicated that Rhoades was justified in terminating the commencement excercises on the school's athletic field. "Inappropriate behavior" by students included throwing beach balls, a coordinated wave motion by the students often seen at sports events, screaming and using obscene language.

However, Rivera said, Rhoades was counseled on his method of calling off the event. Rhoades and the faculty walked off the field without any announcement. A high school official said later that an announcement might have triggered a riot.

Some parents denounced Rhoades' action, contending that he should have warned the students to behave before taking severe measures. They also claimed that most of the students were just expressing youthful exuberance over what should have been a happy event.

The 550 seniors received their diplomas after turning in their caps and gowns and some later participated in a private graduation ceremony in a city park.

"I'm still angry," said Deborah Rogers, one of the protesting parents. "The whole thing could have been handled differently."

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