A straight-A student, president of the student council, has been banned from the graduation ceremony of her private Christian high school.
The principal of Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Maryland, is standing by his decision to bar 18-year-old Maddi Runkles from participating in the event.
Runkles is pregnant. Principal David Hobbs says she can’t take part in graduation not because of the pregnancy, but because the pregnancy demonstrates that she is immoral. Hobbs notes that Runkles broke school rules by engaging in intimate sexual activity.
Hobbs explained his reasoning in a letter to parents in which he said that Runkles is facing discipline "not because she is pregnant but because she was immoral.”
The principal continued, “The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her morality that began this situation."
Runkles, whose father has been a Heritage Academy board member, discovered she was pregnant in January. She notified the school and was told she would lose her position as student council president and that she would no longer be able to attend classes at the school. The family appealed and Heritage agreed to let Runkles attend classes. But graduation is still out of the question.
"It's because I'm pregnant and you can see the results of my mistake," 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. They're allowed to walk [across the stage at graduation] this year. The school is worried about its reputation, but I think they're missing out on an incredible opportunity to set an example for the pro-life community and Christian schools about how to treat guys and girls like me."
Principal Hobbs said the penalty imposed on Runkles is a consequence of her own choices and explained that her plight will serve as a helpful example to other students.
"The breach of a standard of abstinence is a grievous choice," he said. "Maddi made a grievous choice. We do believe in forgiveness, but forgiveness does not mean there's no accountability."
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