Pregnant teenager Maddi Runkles has been banned from attending her high school graduation at Heritage Academy in Maryland. The Christian school has sustained extensive backlash for its decision, but is refusing to cave to public pressure and allow Runkles to walk at the commencement ceremony.
The pregnant teen is a senior at the small Hagerstown, Maryland Christian high school. Graduating students are scheduled to walk at the Heritage Academy ceremony and receive their diplomas next week.
Pro-life groups are among those staunchly urging the Christian school to allow the pregnant teen to participate in the annual graduation ceremony. Heritage Academy administrators are steadfast in their belief that long-existing school rules and adherence to the morality code must be followed.
Heritage Academy Principal David R. Hobbs insists Maddi Runkles is being subjected to discipline not because she is pregnant, but because she behaved in an immoral manner. The rules at the Maryland Christians school mandate student not to engage in intimate sexual activity, MSN reported.
“The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her morality that began this situation,” the Christian high school principal said.
— Emma Green (@emmaogreen) May 24, 2017
Principal Hobbs also said the Maddi Runkles graduation ban is an issue about abstinence and not a pro-life versus abortion issue. The Christian school principal deemed the controversy surrounding the pregnant teen an “internal issue about which much prayer and discussion has taken place,” according to the New York Times.
Maddi Runkles, 18, is carrying a 4.0 grade point average. She began attending Heritage Academy in 2009. Runkles’ father was a member of the school board at the Maryland Christian school when she found out that she was pregnant in January.
The senior informed school officials about her pregnancy and was originally told she would be suspended from Heritage Academy, dismissed from her position as student council president, and complete the rest of the academic year at home.
Maddi’s family appealed the disciplinary ruling multiple times and she was ultimately allowed to finish her senior year on campus, but was banned from attending the graduation ceremony. Runkles’ parents believe the punishment handed down against their daughter is unjust and more harsh than acts of discipline levied against students who broke other rules at Heritage Academy.
Initially the pregnant teen’s father recused himself from any decisions involving the discipline of his daughter, but ultimately resigned from the school board when he became angry about the level of punishment she was to receive for breaking school rules. He said the punishment hung over her head for four months and ruined her senior year.
Social media posters who support the Christian school’s decision to enforce its morality code largely feel getting pregnant in high school is what truly ruined Maddi Runkle’s senior year.
— C.J. Lovelace (@cj_lovelace) May 23, 2017
“It’s because I’m pregnant and you can see the results of my mistake,” Maddi Runkles said. “There have been kids who have broken the student code and they could have hurt people or even gone to jail and they only received an in-school suspension and they’re allowed to walk this year.”
— Students for Life (@Students4LifeHQ) May 24, 2017
Runkles went on to claim Heritage Academy is merely worried about its reputation, indicating a visibly pregnant teenager walking at graduation would harm the public persona of the Hagerstown school. Maddi also believes her Maryland high school is walking away from an “incredible opportunity” to set an example for other Christian schools and the pro-life community.
The teenager said Heritage Academy could show other Christian schools how to treat “guys and girls” like her. The father of the pregnant teen’s unborn baby has not yet been named publicly. He has reportedly already graduated high school and did not attend the Heritage Academy.
What do you think about the pregnant teen being banned from walking at the Heritage Academy graduation ceremony in Maryland?
[Featured Image by Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock]