CUBA, N.M. (KRQE) - A high school valedictorian won't attend her own graduation unless the school district changes its calendar.
The Cuba Independent School District recently moved graduation to Saturdays - which is a problem for her religion.
"That will be my Sabbath Day. I believe it's important to put God first, but still, I would really, really want to walk with my classmates," said Cuba High School senior Liberty Thompson, who is a devout Seventh Day Adventist.
On Tuesday night, she wanted to make her case to the school board, but they wouldn't let her talk.
The school claims the State Public Education Department told them they couldn't change the graduation date from Saturday, May 24, to Friday, May 23, so the issue was no longer on the board agenda.
"Once we got notification from the NM PED that we could not change the calendar, there was no reason to continue with it because we would be in violation," said school board president Christine Montoya.
"We've gone to the state a couple times to make adjustments, to no avail," added Superintendent Doug Hock.
But the PED says they never sent the school that notification - and that they see no reason the school can't change the day.
Graduation days are local decisions and the District would only have to petition for the change if it affected an instructional day.
Friday, May 23, is not currently listed as an instructional day, but is listed as a contingency if needed to make up for a snow day.
When the Board wouldn't let Liberty speak at the meeting, her father did.
"I've tried to follow all the proper protocols, all the chain of command to make sure Liberty wouldn't lose the right to her own graduation," Dwight Thompson told the board.
Liberty told us what she wanted to say to the Board.
"Even though I really want to walk with my class, I wanted to say everybody has the right to stand up for what they believe in," she said.
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