A school employee in charge of truancy singled out the 30 students who were not graduating, by name, telling them to leave the gymnasium.
Some parents and students say it sent the wrong message.
"All these kids sign a pact to not bully, not to embarrass or harass other kids," parent Danielle MacDonald said. "Why are they susceptible to not have to sign it or not have to follow their rules?"
Former student Michael Musick adds, "What if one of those kids had a disability or social anxiety? And what if that as the reason they went home and killed themselves because of how worthless they felt?"
Kern High School District spokesman John Teves said administrators were making calls and visiting classes so they could personally apologize to the 30 North High School students who were singled out.
The Bakersfield Californian reports that many of the students who were singled out are in the process of making up credits that would make them eligible for diplomas.
Teves told the newspaper he didn't know if the public embarrassment violated any laws but that the officer showed insensitivity.
It's unclear if the truancy officer will be disciplined, but Teves says staff training is in order.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)