25 May, 2017
Maddi Runkles, a senior at Heritage Academy, a private Christian school, will not be allowed to walk during the upcoming graduation ceremony because she is pregnant.
Maddi felt wrongly represented, despite her honesty, and abandoned by the principles the school faculty had professed. She can also still attend graduation, just not take part in it. And while not walking at graduation could be punishment for school policy offenses like not returning library books or not paying off lunch fees, Maddi won't walk as "punishment" for being pregnant.
The Christian high school said it's against their code of conduct.
"I mean, all I did that was wrong was just have sex before marriage, which they don't agree with", said Runkles, who said carrying the child was "the right decision". "The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her morality that began this situation".
"A lot of disappointment because I had worked so hard for that, and I made one mistake, and all my hard work was being taken away from me", Maddi said.
"I believe that every situation should be evaluated individually", said Principal Dave Hobbs.More news: Celtics follow euphoria of winning lottery with dud on court
When the school found out that Runkles was pregnant, she was stripped of her leadership roles. That's not all - the school board also reportedly suspended her for two days after discovering she was pregnant, and removed her as president of the student council.
Heritage Academy released a full statement on its website Tuesday, signed by school administrator David Hobbs, saying that "Maddi is being disciplined, not because she's pregnant, but because she was immoral".
Runkles, who has been accepted to Bob Jones University, a Christian school in SC, doesn't believe Heritage will change its mind about letting her walk at graduation June 2, but she said that if it does, she will take part. All of this would've remained private if the Runkles family hadn't sought help from Students for Life - a pro-life, anti-abortion group. The school's Board of Directors decided she could finish her classes, but not walk with her classmates. Hobbs, according to Students for Life, was going to announce to the school that she had broken the rules but she volunteered to tell the school herself.
A New York Times article profiled the student, Maddi Runkles, in a piece last week that drew national attention to her situation and ultimately led Hobbs to write publicly of the board's decision.
But Runkles's father believes the pledge can be interpreted differently that would allow her to walk on graduation. "It was embarrassing but I wanted my peers and my friends to hear it from me".
Her baby is due in September, and she plans on staying close to her family so they can help her raise the newborn.