BOHEMIA - A decision by the Connetquot School Board to allow some students who hadn't met graduation requirements to walk in the ceremony is creating controversy.

The school board voted unanimously to suspend its policy prohibiting students who didn't fulfill diploma requirements to participate in the graduation ceremony. The decision came days before graduation day.

"They're not getting a certificate that day, but we don't want to leave a scar on children," says School Board President Lee Kennedy. "We want them to walk with their friends and peers."

Kennedy says the board considered students who were close to meeting the graduation criteria but didn't because of circumstances out of their control.

"It's homelessness... it's medical issues... it's who's been hospitalized... who has terrible family problems going on," says Kennedy. "It's a combination of all of those."  

Critics say the decision removes a key tool for teachers to motivate their kids to come to class and excel.

"It was a disservice to our teachers and our kids because it's not teaching them responsibility," says Tony Felicio Jr., of the Connetquot Teachers Association Union.