When 596 of his classmates graduated from Hesperia High School on Thursday night in Devore, Aaron Horsley was there.

He had been all set to graduate, and had participated in graduation rehearsal the day before, but during the rehearsal, school officials had finally gotten the answer from the agency that was home-schooling Horsley: He hadn't earned enough credits to graduate.

"In October, right, first semester of this year, he had that horrible accident, which, in effect, blew up that whole semester," said Hesperia High Principal Larry Porras Friday. "It's not his fault, not our fault, just happened."

Horsley had been getting home-schooled after being hit while riding a motorcycle and dragged behind a truck in October 2007. Paralyzed from the waist down, he had been in and out of Loma Linda University Medical Center, doing class work both in the hospital and at home.

"I found out at about 8:30 in the morning, and I couldn't even tell him until noon," mother Marilyn said Friday.

Despite needing to finish additional credits before graduating -- Horsley has already passed the California High School Exit Examination -- he still attended the class of 2008's graduation ceremony at Glen Helen Pavilion, and then to grad night at Disneyland with his classmates.

"The kids that were walking up the ramp [to get their diploma] stopped first to hug him," Marilyn Horsley said.

Porras said he had no choice but to hold Horsley back.

"This district, as long as I've been here, has a very clear board policy: 220 units obtained to get a diploma," he said. "Every year, every principal is asked this, to make an exception. ... I have a heart, I love these kids, but I can't. If I let slide one, I have to do it with every kid."

"We had to call people and tell them not to come," Marilyn Horsley said. "It was pretty heartbreaking. Aaron took it like a trouper."

"The reality is that we have 30 to 40 non-grads who fall short for whatever reason," Porras said. "Graduation is the culmination of your educational experience, and he's not done."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.