Controversies

Pregnant Maryland teen fights to walk in Christian school's graduation ceremony

A pregnant high school senior who attends a private Christian school in Maryland says it's unfair that officials there have barred her from walking at her graduation ceremony next month.

Officials at Heritage Academy in Hagerstown have said the student, Maddi Runkles, is not allowed at the ceremony because she violated the school’s code of conduct by having premarital sex, Fox 5 reported.

Runkles, 18, found out she was pregnant in January. When she informed the school about her pregnancy she reportedly was suspended for two days and stripped of all her leadership positions.

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She said the school required its students and parents to sign a vow at the beginning of the year stating in part, “This application extends to my actions, such as protecting my body by abstaining from sexual immorality and from the use of alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs…”

“I signed it, which is like a typical thing every school year,” Runkles said.

Runkles’ father, Scott, a former president of the school’s board, said he believed the vow could be interpreted in a way that would allow her to participate in the graduation.

“The difference is consistency because we have had other students that have had serious infractions and they have walked in the past and they are allowed to walk this year,” Scott Runkles said.

When he was on the board, Runkles recused himself from decisions involving his daughter. But he ultimately quit the board to protest how she was treated.

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Heritage Academy Administrator David Hobbs labeled the matter "an internal issue about which much prayer and discussion has taken place," The New York Times reported.

“You can’t be pro-life, but then refuse to support the girl that keeps her baby,” the teen argued.

The baby’s father does not attend the academy and the two do not intend on getting married, Runkles said.

If the teen is not allowed to walk at the ceremony on June 2 then she plans to hold a private ceremony and invite her classmates.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.