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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"

2015 years 10 months ago

Gina Sullivan you are a complete hypocrite! You say it’s not the school’s responsibility to call the parents to let them know that their child has missed school, but yet when your very own son “ditched” school with some of other kids earlier this semester you were the 1st person to call the school to snitch on all the kids including your own! That ended up back firing on you now didn’t it!

State and Federal requirement is: Must have a minimum of 185 days OR 1,025 hours of instruction. If the kids meet the State requirement there should be no reason not to let them walk. Brunswick County Schools attend clases longer than what is require by both the State and Federal Government. There was actually no need to make up the ice days this year. As much as these kids go to school each year and with NO real breaks throughout the course of the day or throughout the year at that; the kids are going to get burned out faster! The county has no one to blame but themselves. I believe it was in the best interest of WBHS that Mr. Ahrens stepped down anyway. You don’t transfer people from school to school if they are not meeting expectations. In fact the school district needs to clean house with all WBHS lead administration. The philosophy of kids are meant to been seen and not heard is not the right way to run a school at any grade level. I believe that the Brunswick County School Board needs to look into the attendance policy as a whole. I believe that excused and unexcused absents should not be lumped together and that only unexcused absents need to count against the kids.

2015 years 10 months ago

Another Pruden fiasco. Another call to FIRE Pruden.

2015 years 10 months ago

The students did NOT make up the missed days. That is the point of not allowing them to participate in graduation. There were many students who did make up the missed time, but the 18 who refused to make up the time that they missed are receiving the consequence that they were made aware of weeks ago! If the students did not make up the time they could not walk. They did not make up the time, so they should not walk. The board of education’s decision here completely undermined Mr. Ahrens. What a crying shame!

2015 years 10 months ago

If these students had finished all the requirements at the end of the fall semester, they should have graduated in January when the semester ended. Schools would still allow them to participate in the ceremony today. This would have allowed the students to work as much as they wanted and have no obligation to the school during the entire Spring Semester. There are options for students do have completed their requirements. Unfortunately, some students want to be able to work when they want and hang out at school when they want. You cant have it both ways. If a students is going to be a student they have to be where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there. This is the only way a school can maintain safety for all students and faculty.

2015 years 10 months ago

He was always mean to people and told some people that the looked uneducated so how was that right


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