'Premium' Graduation Seats Going for $200 at Florida High School

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 12:51 PM

By Nick Sanchez

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A Florida high school that's charging parents $200 for "Premium" graduation seats and charging graduating seniors $20 to participate has become the center of a growing controversy.

Some parents of students graduating from Manatee High School in Bradenton, Florida said the new policy is discriminatory, ABC Tampa Bay reported.

"Economically, socially, socio-economically, it's just not fair," said Mark Domer. He's concerned that the policy affects low-income households adversely.

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School principal Don Sauer declined to comment on the new policy, but Manatee County School District officials said many schools in the district charge the $20 participation fee — which can be waived for those who can show financial hardship — and that the $200 premium seating fee for friends and family helps the school cover the cost of the graduation ceremony as funding falls across the district.

While some decry the premium seats, all ten rows have sold out, indicating a willingness on behalf of at least some families to pay.

Still others, like parent Mayu Fielding, seem to balk at the price if not the principle of the seats. "$200 is a lot of money for a preferred seating,"

"I think that's ridiculous. It should be free," said Jennifer Brantley, a parent of students who graduated when the event was still free.

Fox News reported that the graduation ceremony will cost $12,000. In years past the district gave $3,000 to help cover costs, but that money is not available this year.

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