Pregnant Maryland teen not allowed at graduation ceremony

FILE - In this June 18, 2014 file photo, High School graduates stand and sing during graduation ceremonies in Santa Ana Bowl. The nation's high school graduation rate has ticked up slightly to 82 percent, a new high. The Education Department said Tuesday that the rate for the 2013-14 school year — up from 81 percent the previous year — was the highest since it started using a new, uniform measure in 2010. Still, the numbers show nearly 1 in 5 students leaving high school without a diploma. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Mark Felix, File)

BOONSBORO, Md. (AP) — A Maryland high school senior has been barred from participating in her school’s graduation ceremony because she is pregnant.

Media outlets report 18-year-old Maddi Runkles was barred from the June 2 ceremony at the Heritage Academy in Hagerstown because she violated the school’s code of conduct by having premarital sex. Runkles discovered she was pregnant in January.

After the pregnancy became known, officials at the small private Christian school suspended Runkles for two days and removed her from her student council position.

Runkles’ father once sat on the Heritage board and recused himself from decisions involving his daughter. But he ultimately quit the board to protest how she was treated.

Runkles says she feels she has been treated more harshly than students who have been suspended for other reasons. The baby’s father doesn’t attend Heritage Academy, Runkles said.

The two don’t plan on marrying. Anti-abortion organization Students for Life says Runkles shouldn’t be punished for her pregnancy, but should be praised for choosing to keep the baby.

The New York Times quoted Heritage Academy Administrator David Hobbs as saying in a statement that the matter is “an internal issue about which much prayer and discussion has taken place.” The statement was issued on behalf of the school’s board of directors.