Bronx boy battling illnesses withheld from graduation ceremony

A Bronx middle school student will not be able to participate in his graduation ceremony on Tuesday, after missing time from classes due to an illness.

Michael Espada, 14, has had four surgeries, including a kidney transplant in January. Michael's father George says because of the transplant and other illnesses, his son was unable to make up some of the academic requirements needed to take part in commencement at the Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy.

"The principal said if it was up to her, he could walk, but it's not up to her," George said. "It's the school criteria and he's not meeting the school criteria." 

The Department of Education says its policy requires that middle school students meet promotion/graduation requirements before participating in their school's graduation ceremony.

Michael said he tries his best with the schoolwork that he has been given at home. "It upsets me to know that I will not be able to walk with my class," Espada said. 

George Espada believes the DOE should consider cases on an individual bases instead of just broad policy.

"I think the school should have some kind of exception for children like Michael who go through such a severe transformation in life," he told News 12.

Michael will have to make up the months of work he missed during summer school. The DOE says students who meet the academic requirements during that time will be able to participate in a commencement ceremony in August.

News 12 spoke with Epsada's family back in 2013 about their struggles to get their unsuitable apartment up to standards for Michael's recovery.

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