Student with brain injury might not be able to graduate with classmates

Posted at: 10/23/2013 10:11 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A Volcano Vista High School student may not be allowed to walk with his classmates at graduation next year because he has a severe brain injury and can't finish his courses.

Mel Phipps had a surgery last year on his brain that went horribly wrong.  It left him in a coma for weeks.  He has been recovering slowly ever since, but he cannot return to school.  

The principal had initially told Mel's parents he couldn't graduate without completing the credits.  So Mel's mother started a petition online to get support for him to be included in his school graduation.  That now has more than 6,000 signatures.

His classmates say graduation wouldn't be the same without him.

"We know he didn't finish high school and all this but it's not that.  He grew up with us.  He grew up with a lot of the kids walking.  It's his class and he should be able to walk with us," classmate Mike Budick said.

APS Marketing Manager Johanna King released this statement about the situation:

"We appreciate that the community is advocating on behalf of Mel. We have met with his family and are exploring possible options."

King said they can't elaborate on what those options are because they involve a student's academics.