Dekalb County Senior Not Allowed to Walk at Graduation
A DeKalb County senior won't get to walk across the stage and get his diploma this month.
Dakota Tolbert was severely injured after an attack last year, and because of that, he says his senior year has been ruined.
“I wake up and look at this scar on my nose and immediately it brings it back,” said Tolbert.
The Ider High School senior is lucky to be alive. Court records show he was beaten in the head with a metal pipe by 31-year-old Derlon Wilson. Wilson is now facing second-degree assault charges.
“After my second surgery it just seemed like it got even more difficult because I had more work piling up,” said Tolbert.
Melissa Jackson, Tolbert’s mother says, “The man that did this to him has taken so much from him. I don’t want him to take this from him too.”
The incident caused Tolbert to miss two months of school. Medical records show the trauma to his head has made him suffer from short-term memory loss, headaches, and loss of focus, making his senior year of high school all the more difficult.
“This is supposed to be the year that everything goes on and it just got crushed,” said Tolbert.
Tolbert passed the first semester of his senior year but failed one class by 8 points this semester.
“When I can’t remember what I’m doing at school I write it down but then when I get home I can’t even remember if I wrote that down. I mean, it’s very difficult to keep up with,” said Tolbert.
While he realizes summer school is necessary, there's just one thing he wants. “All I really want is to walk across the football field with my class,” said Tolbert.
Even though Tolbert wouldn't receive his diploma until after summer school, officials say walking at commencement isn't possible.
Brian Thomas, Assistant Superintendent at DeKalb County Schools says, “Our policy didn’t allow us to give him the opportunity to walk across the stage.”
Jackson says her son has been through so much and the situation isn’t fair. “I know of several students that have walked before and had to do summer school,” said Jackson.
Tolbert says he's worked hard the past 7 months to finish school. “I just wish that they could understand everything that I’m going through,” said Tolbert.
The suspect in this case, Derlon Wilson, was indicted earlier this month. He’s due in court in June. The graduation ceremony will be Tuesday.