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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — West Brunswick High School’s principal has resigned in an apparent dispute with school district leaders over the eligibility of students to participate in the school’s graduation ceremony tomorrow.

Teachers say it was an emotional day at west brunswick high 130 faculty and staff gathered Friday afternoon giving Ahrens a standing ovation as he walked in the cafeteria.
One teacher told us
Principal Ahrens handed in his letter of resignation to superintendent Dr. Edward Pruden after a disagreement over the school’s attendance policy in regard to walking at graduation.

Representatives from the school board say, some students found out yesterday they wouldn’t be able to walk at graduation but Ahrens says they’ve known all year.

“We actually paid someone on a budget to stay on a Tuesday, on a thursday and the AP’s shifted on a Saturday morning,” Ahrens said.

Ahrens said he gave at risk students three days a week to make up for their absenteeism over the past semester.

As soon as they had made up the missed days, they’d get their diploma.

The students actual graduation from West Brunswick High School was never in question, only their participation in the ceremony.
“That’s the important part … It doesn’t matter what day you get the diploma,” Ahrens said.

The Brunswick County school board overruled Ahrens Friday, deciding to allow the 18 students in question to participate on graduation day Saturday.

Brunswick County Schools spokeswoman Jessica Swenski says, “There is no attendance requirement specified in that state law or in board policy.”

However, the standing state and school policy says students missing more than eight days will be given a failing grade and in turn, unable to graduate.

While these 18 students did miss more than eight days, they had not received an failing grade.

Ahrens says they want their students to succeed and state requirements for school and teacher evaluations are encouraging teachers to allow students to make up work.

“There’s pressure on me, there’s pressure on our teachers, there’s pressure on our whole district,” Ahrens said. “We’ve created our own broken system.”

West Brunswick has implemented an entire absentee committee that calls parents when students don’t show up for school, but junior Alex Clarida says students have found a way around that by giving the school their own number. That way, the calls never actually make it to the parents.

Ahrens says he has seen a growing trend in absenteeism at West Brunswick. “I think it’s directly related to us as principals allowing kids to walk with high absentee rates,” Ahrens said.

School system reps says this ordeal has brought light to the fact, while they do have an attendance policy, they need to examine it and strive for consistency in the procedures for each of the schools.

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55 Comments on "FIRST ON 3: West Brunswick High School principal quits over students’ graduation eligibility"

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Michelle Cochran
2016 years 2 months ago

In my opinion we need to get rid of this school board and elect all new members. We need a strong board that will stand up and follow the rules. This board cannot even stand by a decision they made about changing back to traditional school times they rescinded their earlier decision about going back. I am worried about what is going to become of the high school now.

2016 years 2 months ago

He was and will always be an amazing principal. .I know I’ve worked for him

2016 years 2 months ago

I am a student at West Brunswick. He does not have the right to keep them from walking at graduation. If you complete your work and pass the qualifications to graduate you should be able to walk down at graduation because not only did you go through 4 years of hard work. You did it without having to go to school as much as the others which also shows that you have an advantage in learning more quickly than other students. No he was not doing his job.

Martha Myers
2016 years 2 months ago

I support Mr. Ahrens decision 100% and applaud him for attempting to uphold policy. Why have a written policy regarding attendance, or anything else, if it is not going to be followed. What message are we sending students? To not allow the students to graduate would have been unfortunate, but life is full of consequences for rules not followed. What happens when these same students enter the world of work and they miss excessive days……they are fired! I wish only the best for Mr. Ahrens in his future outside of Brunswick County. And people wonder why so many teachers… Read more »

2016 years 2 months ago

He was doing his job by enforcing the rules. There are more than just academic requirements for graduation. You are required to be there a certain number of days and allowed only a certain number of absences. If those absences are due to extenuating circumstances, then exceptions should be made. If the absences are because the student just doesn’t feel the need to follow the rules, then they should not be allowed to walk with the rest of the students who met all requirements and followed the rules.

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