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Central Bucks cracks down on which board members can hand out diplomas


Editor's Note: This story has been updated to adjust the pronouns used by CB South graduate Ben Besick.

A handful of Central Bucks School District seniors said they would like someone other than the school board president and the district’s superintendent to hand them their diplomas this week.

CJ Weintraub, who’ll be graduating from CB West, said, “I would like someone else to give me my diploma because I feel as though Abe Lucabaugh and Dana Hunter have absolutely no concern for queer students’ safety in their schools.

“Even though I am graduating and I won’t have to be in a CB building every day, I still fear for the queer students who will continue to attend school in CBSD and feel unsafe, unheard and unwanted every day,” they said.

Lucabaugh is the school district’s superintendent and Hunter is the school board president. Both, along with the majority of the school board, have initiated or supported policies many in the LGBTQ+ community have found concerning.

The district has consistently stressed the policies are not intended to discriminate but, rather, to support all students.

Neither Hunter nor Lucabaugh responded to requests for comment for this story.

School board member Dr. Mariam Mahmud, who said she was asked by five or six students to present them with their diplomas this year, was recently told the district was only allowing a board member who has an immediate family member graduating to perform that role.

Dr. Mahmud said last year she presented 10 to 20 students with their diplomas. “I hate to see (the district) straying from the tradition,” she said in an interview. “It’s such an honor for students to feel connected to a board member. They should feel supported in every way.”

CB West senior Zandi Hall said she requested Dr. Mahmud present her with her diploma, as she’s a family friend and “a sweet and caring person.” Her principal, Lyndell Davis, told her in an email Monday that “there continues to be ongoing discussions regarding the topic. I will let you know once a final decision has been made.”

Hall said, “Graduation should be a joyous day, we’ve been working toward it our whole lives. This school board has caused pain for a lot of students.”

Choosing a school board member to present the diploma has “been a tradition for years,” said Hall. “It shouldn’t be politicized. Saying ‘no’ this year is very telling.”

“I hope they can find it in their hearts to support the students for one day,” said Hall, of the district’s decision.

Ben Busick, a senior at CB South, also requested Dr. Mahmud present them with their diploma.

Having Hunter and Lucabaugh deliver the diploma, Busick said, “would be difficult. To look them in the eye and shake their hands would be uncomfortable. We don’t feel respected.”

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