Parents frustrated after ‘last-minute’ graduation change at Conifer High

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CONIFER, Colo. (KDVR) — Jefferson County parents are frustrated after the guest list at Conifer High School’s graduation ceremony was suddenly cut in half.

Ellie Hislop is CHS’ salutatorian.

“I’m glad to be done. It’s weird. I feel like I never really finished high school,” said Hislop.

Her special day started out on a sour note.

The school contacted parents Friday morning to let them know each family could only have two people in attendance at the commencement ceremony. Last week, families were told four guests could attend.

“It’s so last-minute. We received a call at 9:30 this morning, about six hours before we were supposed to have people start showing up. They had no explanation, just that it was JeffCo Health and that was the cause,” said Ellie’s father, Jeff Hislop.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers contacted Jefferson County Public Health.

Environmental Health Services Division Director James Rada responded by saying, “the plan that (Jeffco Public Schools) submitted and I approved on July 27, 2020 proposed that all graduation ceremonies would be limited to two tickets per student. The plan also stated that no additional tickets will be allowed. There was no last-minute change nor a request submitted to me for a change. No variance was granted to Conifer High School.”

Rada also tells FOX31 his office received a number of calls from upset parents.

So, what happened?

The FOX31 Problem Solvers left several voicemails and sent multiple messages to the Jeffco Public Schools and administrators at CHS but received no explanation.

The district did respond to one email, saying, “We are not aware of any variance given to Conifer for the graduation ceremony.” It went on to say, “the school has been communicating with families today to clarify this.”

But the district did not address how the mixup occurred.

“Nothing has really changed in the last two or three weeks. They could have told us this several weeks ago,” said Jeff Hislop.

He hopes the district and CHS do a better job of communicating in the upcoming school year.

Regardless, Ellie received her diploma and is now headed to college at the Colorado School of Mines.

“I’m excited. I”m ready to be done,” she said.

However, she is disappointed her siblings weren’t allowed to be at the ceremony to watch her cross the stage.

“Hopefully I graduate from college so they can come to that one,” Ellie said.

“In some ways it’s kind of fitting. Her senior year sort of crashed to the ground at the end there and I guess this like the icing on the cake,” her father added.

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