Mom fights to have Huguenot High issue honorary diploma to murdered son

RICHMOND, Va. --  The past three months have brought Jendaihi Coles unimaginable pain; she lost her son Jaleel Yates in a drive by shooting in south Richmond.

Police are still searching for his killer.

Yates was working his way through the aspire program and was right on track for his June 12 graduation.

His mom said his dream was to cross the stage with fellow students from his Huguenot High.

“Even in his absence it will mean a lot to both of us because he actually accomplished something,” Coles said. “It was a rough ride getting the boy through school but he finally was able to do it and then this situation happened.”

Every day without Jaleel has been tough, but Coles has made it her mission to honor him in death by carrying out his graduation wish.

“I mean he tried,” she said. “He put forth effort, he did what he had to do. Even took pictures and sent them to me saying he was doing it.

Coles said the past few days she got mixed signals on whether she would be able to walk across the stage with Jaleel`s dad to receive his diploma.

She said she was told that he didn`t meet state requirements and Richmond Public schools wouldn`t issue it.

“Basically, I’m doing this because he told me he was going to graduate, and I mean, he`s going to graduate and keep his promise,” she said. “Because it`s not his fault he wasn`t here to do it. They already took his life. They can`t take that from him either.”

The CBS 6 Problem Solvers contacted RPS and the Virginia Department of Education to find out the protocol on issuing diplomas posthumously.

We were told that school districts have the discretion to issue honorary diplomas.

An RPS spokesperson now tells CBS 6 that is what they plan to do Tuesday at the Altria Theater, when Huguenot High students graduate.

“He was an all-out good kid. I feel like he deserves this. He knows he deserves this,” his mom said.

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