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Ballou High School graduates students through difficult year

Ballou High School graduates students through difficult year (ABC7)

Defiant pride was the mood inside the gym at Ward 8's Ballou High School Monday.

One of those proud mothers was Latonya Allen — whose son Tre’Vaughn graduated with honors.

“He was accepted to eight colleges and universities,” said Allen.

There were 177 graduates last year. This year there are 136. But last year, two thirds of those graduates shouldn't have. They had too many absences.

“It not only becomes the cleansing, it becomes the storm that they were able to go through and they were able to make adaptability and make the change,” said Carleen McCarley, mother of graduate Gabrielle McCarley-Lewis.

After revelations from the ABC7 I-Team's "Faking The Grade" investigation, a district-wide audit resulted in changes, including the ouster of Ballou's popular principal.

When the news broke about Dr. [Yetunde] Reeves, it was very heartbreaking. I've never seen my child emotional. He cried,” recalled Allen.

Ballou was not the only school that graduated chronically absent students, but it did graduate the most last school year in violation of DCPS policy.

The parents of two Ballou students who died this year, in a shooting, and an alleged classroom beating were given posthumous diplomas by Katreena Shelby, Ballou's third principal of the year.

But for Latanya Allen, none of that mattered as much as the pride and joy of watching her son and all his classmates walk on stage.

“Coming to Ballou helped develop him as a man. It gave him confidence, things that as a mom, I didn't see,” said Allen.

As for their future, when asked by their principal who was going to college, nearly the entire graduating class stood up and cheered.

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