AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said he quickly notified school districts that the graduation requirement was back in effect. “In my opinion this brings certainty to the Class of 2006, to those parents, to those in the education community,” he said. But the lead attorney for the plaintiffs said O’Connell was claiming victory prematurely and held out hope that the courts could still side with his clients. “We intend to seek immediate relief in the court of appeals in San Francisco,” attorney Arturo Gonzalez said. “We are hopeful that oral arguments can be scheduled in time to obtain an order that would allow the Class of 2006 to graduate.” A group of students sued the state, claiming the test discriminates against low-income and minority students. On May 12, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman suspended the graduation requirement for the Class of 2006, saying California was ill-equipped “to adequately prepare students to take the exam,” especially in poor, underfunded areas of the state. The high court stayed that ruling and ordered the 1st District Court of Appeal to hear the case, but did not say when leaving students who failed the test in a state of legal limbo. A spokeswoman for the appeals court declined to comment on how quickly the court would decide the case. O’Connell said Wednesday that some high schools had already held their commencements, but he was not aware of any students who failed the exit exam and were given diplomas. After Freedman threw out the graduation requirement for this year’s seniors, O’Connell appealed directly to the Supreme Court, demanding that the decision be promptly reversed ahead of looming commencement ceremonies. But the justices rarely decide a case before an appeals court hears it. In their ruling Wednesday, a majority of the justices said they were not convinced that Freedman got it right. “At this juncture this court is not persuaded that the relief granted by the trial court’s preliminary injunction … would be an appropriate remedy,” the justices wrote. The one-page opinion was signed by Chief Justice Ronald George, and Justices Joyce Kennard, Marvin Baxter, Ming Chin and Carol Corrigan. Kennard, while agreeing that the case should go before an appeals court, added that she would not have stayed Freedman’s decision. Justices Kathryn Mickle Werdegar and Carlos Moreno would have allowed the students to get diplomas reporting “a student’s status as having passed or not passed all portions of the California High School Exit Exam.” “The Supreme Court did not say that Judge Freedman was wrong,” Gonzalez said. “Four justices simply questioned whether allowing our clients to graduate was the appropriate remedy. We intend to demonstrate that the relief was proper.” Lawyers for the state wrote in their appeal that Freedman’s decision was “bad public policy” and an illegal intrusion into the lawmaking branch of state government. O’Connell wanted the decision overturned to “further society’s interest in ensuring that students demonstrate minimal academic proficiency in order to receive a high school diploma.” O’Connell, who wrote the 1999 exit exam legislation while he was a state senator, said students who fail the test can still get further remedial instruction and take the test again. About 47,000 students had yet to pass both parts of the exit exam as of March, according to the state Department of Education. Updated figures on the number who have passed since then are expected in about a week, officials said Wednesday. Business leaders had lobbied the state to keep the test as a requirement, saying without a uniform standard, a high school diploma means little to employers. Jim Lanich, president of California Business for Education Excellence, said even if the students’ claim that they were denied an equal education has merit, diminishing the value of a diploma doesn’t solve the problem. “For the first time in the history of educational enterprise in this state, we have a list of names of kids who need help,” he said. “Now it’s up to the adults to offer them the help they need.” But Gonzalez said the students should not be punished for the education system’s shortcomings. “If the constitutional rights of our children are violated, we cannot punish them further by depriving them of a diploma that they have rightfully earned by passing all required courses,” he said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN FRANCISCO – The California Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated the state high school exit exam as a graduation requirement for this year’s senior class, leaving tens of thousands of students who failed the test unlikely to graduate. The high court ordered a state appeals court to hold hearings in the case, but with some schools already holding commencement ceremonies this week, a reversal appeared doubtful. The Class of 2006 is the first for which passing the test of 10th-grade English and eighth-grade math and algebra is required for graduation. As many as 47,000 students – one in 10 seniors – have not passed.