A Vietnam veteran will finally get a high school diploma from an unexpected source after battling the school district where he attended 50 years ago.
Ken Weiner, who was awarded the Purple Heart after being shot twice in Vietnam, will accept a diploma from the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools on Tuesday, Nov. 13 in a ceremony called “Operation Recognition.”
Weiner, who lives in Murrieta, had requested his diploma from Long Beach Unified School District; he attended Lakewood High in the late 1960s. But that request was denied. A spokesman for Long Beach Unified would not comment on Weiner’s request or explain why it was denied.
When the Southern California News Group broke the story about Weiner’s fight for his diploma, Riverside extended the offer.
“They were very excited to have vets participate in this program,” said Weiner, 68. “And I want to help set an example for vets that want to get their diplomas. They have gone above and beyond for me and others to make a very respectful ceremony that will honor veterans and promote their commitment to our military.”
For more than a decade, school districts across the state have been honoring two groups with diplomas: Japanese-Americans who were forced into internment camps during World War II and U.S. veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Weiner left Lakewood High in October 1967 (his senior year) to join the Army. In emails to Weiner, Long Beach Unified explained that he had not completed enough of his senior year to qualify for a diploma.
“Over the last 10 years, the Riverside County Board of Education, Riverside County Office of Education, and Riverside County Veterans’ Services have bestowed 350 diplomas to veterans through Operation Recognition,” Riverside County Office of Education spokesman Craig Petinak wrote in an email. “The criteria in education code section 51430 provides for a county office of education to retroactively grant a high school diploma to veterans.
“Mr. Weiner meets that criteria due to his residency in Riverside County and his service to our country in the Vietnam War that interrupted his high school academic career.”
Long Beach Unified had offered to review his academic standing if he submitted paperwork from college courses he completed. Weiner told them no.
“I met the requirements without jumping through more hoops,” he said. “I am a person, not a puppet.”
Source: Orange County Register