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School Board Refuses 16-Year-Old A Diploma Despite University Acceptance

April 14, 1989

LILBURN, Ga. (AP) _ Ivana Markovic’s high school record is good enough for her to be accepted by five top-notch universities, but not good enough for the state Board of Education to give her a diploma.

The board says she finished her high school work too quickly.

Miss Markovic, 16, will enroll this fall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, turning down Vanderbilt, Duke Emory and Georgia Tech.

But she’ll do so without her Parkview High School diploma, thanks to a 7-2 vote this week by the state school board, which refused to bend its rule requiring all high school credits to be earned in high school.

Miss Markovic, a Yugoslavian native who speaks three languages, took two of her high school courses in middle school, so they don’t count, even though she made A’s in both.

″The funny thing is that I have all the academic courses required for high school graduation,″ said Miss Markovic. ″I need just two electives to earn my diploma.″

″I understand she is a brilliant student, (but) she simply doesn’t have enough credits to earn a high school diploma,″ said board member Hollis Q. Lathem.

Larry A. Foster Sr., another board member, said the board’s philosophy is that students Miss Markovic’s age are better off in high school.

Miss Markovic’s father, Milan, said the ruling illustrates how Georgia fails its gifted students.

″They have options for students who failed that allow these students to go to summer school or take class at night so they can graduate on time,″ he said. ″But they don’t have any policy in place to help students who are motivated and complete the requirements ahead of time.″

Markovic said he might appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. He has a daughter in the eighth grade who could face the same dilemma in a few years.

Meanwhile, MIT has said it would admit Miss Markovic without her Parkview diploma.

″All my plans are just as they were before the board’s ruling,″ said Miss Markovic, who wants to be a genetic researcher. ″I know I can handle college. I know what I can do.″

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