A Diploma Five Years After Graduation Day

Former South Oak Cliff student finally receives diploma

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A former South Oak Cliff High School student who finally received his diploma says he is anxious to attend college.

    Robert Kennedy and his family have spent the past five years trying to persuade school administrators that he met his requirements to graduate.

    5 Years Later, Dallas Student Receives Diploma

    [DFW] 5 Years Later, Dallas Student Receives Diploma
    There was no pomp or circumstance when former South Oak Cliff student Robert Kennedy received his high school diploma. (Published Friday, Apr 15, 2011)

    "I'm ready to go out there and see what the world has to offer," he said.

    Kennedy's former guidance counselor, Frank Hammond, said Kennedy was unfairly caught up in a grade-changing scandal.

    Hammond, who now works at a different school district, said he provided information that cost the 2006 South Oak Cliff basketball team the state title. As retribution, he was falsely accused of changing Kennedy's record, Hammond said.

    "Robert Kennedy did absolutely nothing wrong," he said. "He did not have to go back and do any more academic work. He met his requirements."

    "They conspired to use Robert Kennedy to fire me from my job," Hammond said.

    "It was discouraging, but, for Robert's sake, I had to fight, because I knew that he had actually done the work," said his grandmother, Mauanna Kennedy.

    Robert Kennedy said he fought depression over the situation at first.

    "I just stayed in my room all day, every day, just, you know, just laying there, wondering why this was happening to me, knowing that I did the work, knowing that I went to school every day -- out of all people, me, the good guy," he said.

    On Thursday, a family representative finally received his diploma from a school official in the parking lot of Dallas Independent School District headquarters.

    School officials have not issued a comment or an apology. A DISD spokesman did not returned a message for comment.

    Hammond said DISD administrators should be held accountable.

    "There’s no price you can attach to it and say, 'Hey, five years [later], here's your diploma, and you should be happy," he said.

    Kennedy got married and worked through his frustration, using his love for music to help him express his emotions.

    "Really, I made progress in the five years, I have," he said. "You know, at first I was down, but then my music, it lifted me up."

    Now that he has the diploma, he hopes to further his musical talent at the University of North Texas.

    "When I attend college and show the world what I have done through these five years in trying to receive this, they'll know what I've been through," Kennedy said.