Five Central High School students banned from graduation ceremony

FRESNO, California

Alyssa Gutnik said, "I think just a journey completed and we have so much more to go do we're all really excited!"

But, for five of their classmates, the ceremony was a reminder of a tree-cutting incident that resulted in them not being able to finish school or graduate with the rest of their class.

Laura Guzman Magill said, "They've been with all these students who are graduating since kindergarten, and that's a really rough way to go and they should have been graduating. They should have walked across the stage with their classmates."

Laura is an attorney representing 3 of the 5 students who admitted to chopping down a tree at Central East's campus last February.

After the incident, all five students were forced to finish the year at a continuation school. They were also banned from all graduation activities.

One of the students ... Dustin Jackson ... was among the thousands of spectators at Wednesday's ceremony.

He declined to comment, but in a statement to Action News said ... he feared school officials would kick him out.

Fortunately, no problems were reported. Some students and their parents say, if anything, an important lesson was learned.

Lisa Elwood said, "I personally think that was a good thing, the district stuck with the decision not to let them walk."

"I think that they definitely learned a valuable lesson, and yeah, we missed them and they're still part of our class, but I think they learned something and that they should carry that throughout their life," said Katie Elwood.

The five students will receive a diploma. Three of them are still going through an appeals process as part of an ongoing lawsuit.

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