Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
School District Apologizes To Army Reservist Told Not To Wear Uniform At Graduation
A district superintendent for a high school that prevented a student from participating in graduation ceremonies apologized to him and his family on Saturday.
Harland Fletcher, a private first class reservist in the U.S. Army, skipped the Friday ceremonies at Liberty High School rather than cover his Army uniform with a cap and gown. The school initially informed him that he could not participate if he chose not to wear a cap and gown.
It now appears the school made a mistake, and Liberty Union High School District Superintendent Eric Volta acknowledged it, saying a review of state law showed Fletcher was within his rights.
“It has become clear that Harland Fletcher may have the right to wear his U.S. Army Dress Uniform at his graduation, and on behalf of the Liberty Union High School District, I publicly apologize to him and his family for the incident,” Volta said in a statement released late Saturday and posted on the school’s website.
In an interview with ABC7, the student said he was “basically told this is a graduation ceremony. You aren’t allowed to wear that uniform. You’re supposed to wear a cap and gown.”
According to Volta, state law allows a student who has completed basic training to wear the uniform upon graduation
“No slight was meant to Harland or the U.S. Army,” Volta said.
How the decision came down seems to be in dispute. Harland told ABC7 that he had mentioned his plans to a school counselor several times in the weeks leading up to the graduation and was told it wouldn’t be an issue. But Volta seemed to indicate that Liberty Principal Patrick Walsh did not receive adequate notice.
“With a little prior notification, I’m sure that Principal Walsh and the site administration would have come to this conclusion before the ceremony,” Volta said. “Principal Walsh and the District do support the armed forces, as exemplified by his recognition of graduating seniors that have chosen the military for their post-graduate plans during the graduation ceremony.”
Attempts to reach the Fletcher family early Sunday were unsuccessful. According to media reports, Fletcher will pick up his diploma free from fanfare on Monday at the school.
“Again,” Volta said, “I apologize to Harland for this unfortunate incident and thank him for his service to our country.”
©2017 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Gold Star family members might finally see an end to the so-called "Widows Tax" thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.
The top Pentagon watchdog has announced it would be investigating all deaths of recruits during initial military training over the past five years, the agency said in a statement last week.
In a Dec. 4 memo, the DoD Inspector General said it was changing the scope of an investigation it had opened on Nov. 18 that was titled Evaluation of Medical Resources and Guidance to Trainers at Recruit Training Centers in the DoD. Its new title, the IG said, would be Evaluation of Medical Protocols and Deaths of Recruits in the DoD.
While its original objective of looking into the medical resources available to recruits would remain the same, the IG said it would now also review all deaths of recruits at military basic training facilities between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2019.
The move comes in the wake of several deaths at basic training facilities over the past year. In April, the Navy announced a safety review after two prospective sailors died at its recruit training facility in Great Lakes, Illinois. Seaman Recruit Kelsey Nobles died after a fitness test that month; Seaman Recruit Kierra Evans also died after the run portion of the fitness test.
In September, an 18-year-old soldier died following a "medical emergency" before a training drill at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has disciplined more than 20 Marines over misconduct at its San Diego boot camp since 2017, according to The Washington Post. The action came in the wake of a scandal involving the death of a 20-year-old Muslim recruit named Raheel Siddiqui, who fell 40 feet to his death at the Parris Island training facility, where he and other Muslims were targeted for abuse by their drill instructor (the instructor was later sentenced to 10 years in prison at court-martial).
According to the IG, Pentagon investigators will visit all DoD recruit training facilities and interview personnel from each service's education and training commands. They will also speak with personnel at military medical facilities, the Defense Health Agency, and those assigned at the Military Entrance Processing Command, which does the initial intake for civilians going into military service.
The number of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against senior Army officials increased this year, according to an Army Inspector General report recently presented to service leaders and obtained by Task & Purpose.
The document, which lays out broad details of IG investigations undertaken in fiscal year 2019, looks at investigations specific to senior Army officials, which includes "promotable colonels, general officers and senior executives," according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz.
Marine Corps senior leaders have begun to express cautious openness to the idea of making the service's boot camps fully co-ed. But if Congress has its way, the service may be pushed toward full integration sooner than expected.
The final conference version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would require the service to integrate both its East Coast and West Coast entry-level training facilities within the next eight years.
An Indiana National Guard soldier died Saturday at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, located about 75 miles southeast of Indianapolis.
Cpl. Larry Litton Jr., of Martinsville, was 30 years old and an assistant squad leader with the 384th Military Police Company when he was found unresponsive at the facility.