BRIDGEPORT - Parents of 17 Bridgeport middle school students say their children were barred from attending their own graduation ceremonies.

District officials had lifted the rule barring the children from walking in the eighth-grade graduation ceremony at Curiale School on Laurel Avenue, but the school applied the defunct merit system anyway.

Latisa Bland says that in spite of her daughter's passing of all of her classes and only missing a single day of classes, she did not have enough points under the merit system, which assigned scores for behavior, effort and attendance.

Bland says she argued with school officials, who eventually relented and let her daughter walk. 

However, 17 other students remained barred, according to district parents.

Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz says she axed the merit policy last week when she first learned of it. She says students should be held from graduation ceremonies only if they have failed academically or been suspended.