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Online petition calls for South Hardin High School senior to be allowed to walk at graduation

Dr. Adam Zellmer, the district’s superintendent, referred to the requirements needed in order to graduate high school at South Hardin.

ELDORA, Iowa —

After a South Hardin High School senior learned she would not be allowed to walk at graduation, over 3,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the district to let her cross the stage. 

South Hardin Schools refused to accept Jaidyn Teske as a graduate due to a technicality with her freshman year homeschool credits, according to a petition made by her older brother. 

Dr. Adam Zellmer, the district’s superintendent, referred to the requirements needed in order to graduate high school at South Hardin.

"At South Hardin High School, and the Eldora-New Providence Community School District, we have a graduation requirement of 52 credits. And these credits are credits that are recommended by the Iowa Department of Education. And so in that 52 credits, there has to be so many science credits, so many social studies credits, but a total of 52 credits that come from accredited schools to graduate.” 

But after a petition was created in support of Teske, community members questioned why she can't walk at graduation.

“The key is accreditation," Zellmer said. "And most homeschool programs do not have accreditation, or most classes that they take, do not have accreditation."

Teske is set to play volleyball at Northwestern College in Orange City in the fall.

“I can personally vouch that her curriculum was the same as any [South Hardin] students,” the online petition reads. “Even though her college accepted her 'homeschool' credits, she is still accredited as being a 'South Hardin’ student when it comes to achievements in athletics and academics.” 

As far as how colleges handle the process of accepting applicants with outside credits compared to high schools, Zellmer told Local 5 it's two different sets of requirements. 

“I can't speak to how colleges handle things. These have been board policies and procedures that we've had in place, and the majority of schools in the state of Iowa have in place with regards to the graduation requirements and commencement. This is the IASB sample policy that we're using."

Local 5 reached out to Teske's family but did not hear back as of Friday evening.

"Each year, we have students who do not meet the graduation requirements for a variety of reasons. While they are not eligible to participate in the commencement ceremony, we do make every effort to recognize seniors in multiple ways throughout their senior year," the district said in a statement.

Zellmer says South Hardin Schools works with homeschooling programs and that academic advisors meet early on with the student and explain where the student is at credit-wise.

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