In 2011, a Newport Beach accident involving a drunk driver left Crystal Morales, then a senior at Newport Harbor High School, in a coma with a traumatic brain injury. When she returned to school about three months after the crash, she was given assignments but not required to turn them in and her grades quickly started improving, in one class from a D to an A-. In her opinion, the school’s staff gave her a pass to graduate, cheating her out of a quality education. Now she’s suing the school, requesting that Newport-Mesa Unified School District invalidate her diploma and allow her to re-do the last few months of her senior year.
In court papers filed in response to the lawsuit, the school district indicated that Morales’ mother, Gloria, refused an assessment for special education for her daughter after the Newport Beach accident and was adamant that her daughter graduate with a high school diploma, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The elder Morales said, “that she didn’t understand what her daughter would miss out on by graduating.”
While it remains to be seen if Morales is given a second chance to take her senior year curriculum, what is clear is that she is yet another victim of drunk driving. Annually, DUI crashes claim nearly 10,000 lives and more than one-third of the victims are not the drunk drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2011, 3,371 of the people who lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes were not the drunk driver.
After pleading guilty to driving under the influence, the driver responsible for the Newport Beach accident that injured Morales was sentenced to seven years in prison.
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