For many high school students, walking in their graduation ceremony marks a huge accomplishment.
But on Friday, one Bay Area student wasn’t allowed to participate in his school’s ceremony.
The principal and vice principal at Liberty High School in Brentwood told student Harland Fletcher that he could not participate if he refused to cover his Army uniform with a cap and gown, according to Fox affiliate KTVU. Fletcher decided to skip the ceremony.
Fletcher, a private first class reservist in the U.S. Army, attended basic combat training between his junior and senior years of high school. He enlisted on his 17th birthday, which is the earliest day possible, according to KTVU.
After reviewing state law, Liberty Union High School District superintendent Eric Volta recognized that the school made a mistake and apologized in a statement posted to the school’s website late Saturday.
“It has become clear that Harland Fletcher may have the right to wear his US Army Dress Uniform at his graduation and on behalf of the Liberty Union High School District I publically apologize to him and his family for this Incident,” Volta said.
Fletcher mentioned his plans to a school counselor in the weeks leading up to the graduation ceremony, according to the East Bay Times. However, Volta’s statement seemed to indicate that school administrators had not gotten prior notice.
“No slight was meant to Harland nor to the US Army,” the statement read. “In fact with a little prior notification, I’m sure that Principal Walsh and the site administration would have come to this conclusion before the ceremony.”
Fletcher’s father, Bill, told KTVU that he is “tired of service members and vets being quietly and systematically denied rights by establishments that should know, respect and abide by the laws enacted on all of our behalf.”
According to KTVU, Fletcher will be able to pick up his diploma from the school Monday.