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Governor signs military uniform bill

Local Marine’s fight to wear uniform during high school graduation ceremony prompts change in law

Posted: October 12, 2009 10:54 p.m.
Updated: October 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Nicholas Laccabue, who fought against Saugus High School's graduation dress code policy, wears his U.S. Marine uniform at his graduation ceremony at College of the Canyons in June. The governor signed a bill Monday that will allow high school students across the state to graduate in uniform.

 

The governor on Monday signed into law a bill inspired by a Saugus High School senior who fought to wear his military uniform to graduation, allowing high school students across the state who have met all the requirements to graduate in their uniforms.

"This bill represents a bipartisan recognition of the sacrifice that many of our young men and women are making," Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita said in a statement. "It's a small but important way to show our appreciation of their service to our country."

Shari Laccabue, mother of then-high school senior Nicholas Laccabue, welcomed the news.

"I am beyond excited and thrilled," she said.

While she was initially nervous about whether the governor would sign the bill, Shari Laccabue said she is now grateful to Smyth and his efforts.

"When Mrs. Laccabue came to me in February, I was honored to carry legislation to address the problem that Nicholas and other students were facing," Smyth said.

AB 1463 was inspired by Nicholas Laccabue, now a Saugus High School graduate and a U.S. Marine, who finished boot camp at Camp Pendleton in March 2009.

His request to wear his uniform, instead of the traditional cap and gown, to the June graduation ceremony was initially denied by Saugus High School Principal Bill Bolde, but later granted after the William S. Hart Union High School District changed its policy.

Soon after, Laccabue wore his dress uniform to the Saugus High School graduation ceremony surrounded by his peers decked in caps and gowns.

Bolde said he was always in favor of Laccabue wearing his uniform to graduation.

"It was one of those things where I was caught between two different sides of the fence post," he said.

He was pleased to hear about the new law.

"I'm glad we were able to take it down the right pathway," he said.

Hart district board President Steve Sturgeon called the new law reasonable and appropriate.

"Anytime an individual has an opportunity to display their commitment to the country's forces, it's something to be proud of," he said.

Shari Laccabue's next step is to e-mail parents and friends to let them know about the new law and the impact it has on students who want to serve in the military.

"I just think it shows support to them," she said. "I just think it's a right message."

But Shari Laccabue and Bolde said they hope the law doesn't stop at California.

"I'm so excited it got passed," she said. "Hopefully now the rest of the country will look to us and follow suit."

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