There's one thing Christopher Alderidge wants more than anything else this week.
"I want to graduate with my class that I went with since elementary school," Alderidge said.
That probably will not happen, at least not on his terms.
"It just hurts," Alderidge said.
Alderidge, who lives with cerebral palsy, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has fought his whole life to overcome his challenges, pass all of his classes at Allatoona High School and fulfill all the requirements to earn his diploma.
"I've been working since I was 4 years old," Alderidge said.
But until Alderidge passes a state science exam, the Cobb County Board of Education will not let him walk with his graduating class.
"Not to share the spotlight with them, not throw my hat up in the air and hug them, it just hurts," Alderidge said.
The district is offering Alderidge a lesser degree as a consolation.
"I can get a special education diploma," Alderidge.
"That's unacceptable," said Alderidge's mother, Brenda Alderidge, who is fighting to get her son the honor he earned. "He worked hard for that diploma, the regular diploma, like everyone else did. Why would I change it to a special education diploma just to have this situation go away?"
Brenda Alderidge fears a special education diploma would limit her son's chances for the future.
"He can't go to college, he can't go to a university, he can't go to a technical school, if he wanted, he can't join the military," Brenda Alderidge said.
The Alderidges have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, knowing there's little chance the case will be resolved before the Friday graduation.
"Have a soul and have a heart and just open up and care, because right now, they're not caring," Christopher Alderidge said.
The Cobb County School District has let students walk in past graduation ceremonies even though they have owed requirements.
Christopher Alderidge, who said he will take the state exam over the summer, is confident he will eventually get his conventional high school diploma.
CBS 46 tried to contact Cobb County School Board Vice Chairman Randy Scamihorn on Wednesday, but he did not return the calls.
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