(BCN) – San Leandro Unified School District Superintendent Michael McLaughlin sent a letter to the “SLUD community” on Thursday, apologizing and explaining how a group of special education students were mistakenly excluded from some aspects of this year’s San Leandro High School graduation ceremony.

Six special education students were left out of the printed curriculum distributed at the ceremony, and their certificates of completion were not available for pickup the day after graduation, along with those of the other students. Students in the school’s special day class program within the Department of Special Education do not receive official high school diplomas, due to varying state requirements. They receive certificates of completion.

McLaughlin blamed the omission of special education student names from the program on a clerical error by staff, as the various documents were not stored in the same computer file.

“In our investigation, the district determined that there was no name review process to verify accuracy before printing,” McLaughlin wrote. “Next year, and going forward, the district will review the draft program for accuracy before printing.”

Regarding the missing certificates, McLaughlin said they were ordered at the same time as the diplomas. He said they were set aside to be treated separately and then misplaced, which was not discovered until June 6 – three days before graduation.

“Once office staff could not locate the certificates, they immediately reordered but did not notify administration or the affected families of the delay,” McLaughlin wrote. “In our investigation, the District determined that the office staff acted in good faith with their immediate replenishment, which enabled the prompt delivery of the new certificates that arrived last Friday.”

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McLaughlin said he has personally apologized to the families involved and the district has taken steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“I would also like to offer a sincere public apology for the trauma these errors have caused at such an important and festive time in the lives of these scholars,” McLaughlin wrote. “I want our community to know that as district superintendent, I take full responsibility for the terrible experience this has caused for them and their children.”

McLaughlin is working with families to determine “what we as a district can do to repair the damage that has been done.”

“The tremendous challenges these scholars have faced and overcome throughout their educational journey demonstrate the strength of their indomitable spirit and deserve nothing less than our full attention in celebrating their accomplishments,” he wrote.

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