Maddi Runkles is a senior at The Heritage Academy in Hagerstown, Md.
With a 4.0 grade point average, athletics commitments and a leadership role in the school’s Key Club, she was all set to graduate this spring.
Then came her son, Grayson, who almost cost her all of it.
In January, she learned she was pregnant. The Heritage Academy, a conservative Christian school, considers pre-marital sex a violation of its code of conduct, as do many institutions with similar values.
Despite the fact that she attends a Christian school, she says she considered an abortion. (She’s not alone: a 2014 study found that nearly 60 percent of women who have abortions identify as Catholic or Protestant).
“I had worked so hard for [graduation], and I made one mistake, and all my hard work was being taken away from me,” she told WUSA-9.
WUSA-9 reports that she was first removed from her position on the student council and suspended for two days. She was also told that she’d be forced to finish the school year at home, by herself.
But that changed when a group of students and parents numbering about 25 petitioned the school to allow her to finish the year.
“I mean, all I did that was wrong was just have sex before marriage, which they don’t agree with,” says Runkles, who also calls pregnancy “the right decision.”
That’s not how her high school sees it. Principal Dave Hobbs planned to tell the entire school about her pregnancy and resulting suspension, according to Students for Life, an anti-abortion group that’s gotten involved on her behalf.
When interviewed, Hobbs said that the school’s code of conduct is applied on a case-by-case basis, but that the school has already been generous in allowing Runkles to finish her school year on the premises.
Her father, Scott Runkles, says he resigned from his position as a member of the school’s board because of how Maddi was treated.