High School Senior Banned From Graduation for Taking Care of Cancer-Stricken Mom

graduationI can't even begin to imagine what the board members at Austin Fisher's Carrollton, Ohio high school are thinking -- if they're thinking at all, that is. See, 17-year-old Fisher is graduating this May, but he won't be allowed to walk across the stage with his classmates. No cap, no gown. No cheers from the crowd when he gets his diploma. Why? Well, apparently the board feels that Fisher missed "too many days" of school this year.

But guess what Fisher was doing on the days he didn't make it to class? Not partying. Not wasting time at the mall or doing skateboard stunts and posting them on YouTube.

On the days Austin Fisher missed school, he was caring for his mother with Stage IV lung cancer. That's right, Fisher missed "too many days" because he was busy driving his terminally ill single mom Teresa to cancer treatments AND holding down two jobs.

If your reaction to this story is anything like mine, you're probably feeling equal parts infuriated and heartbroken right now.

Thankfully, we're not the only ones.

Austin Fisher's classmates are outraged, too, as is pretty much the entire community (and any thinking, feeling human being besides the ones banning this kid from graduation). Students are circulating a petition (which can be signed online); the Facebook page "Let Fish Walk!" has over 10,000 members.

The whole thing is beyond unfair; it's like something out of a Dickens novel. Here's a family in the middle of an incredibly tragic and difficult time ... let's rob them of this potentially joyful moment!

As Austin's mom wrote in a letter of thanks to concerned Ohio resident Angela Howard:

I could not be more proud of my 17 year old son. He is my hero. No, not the perfect student by their standards but felt his priorities were right at the time. Thank you for your kind words Angela and the entire 2012 class for your efforts. When I was diagnosed with a terminal illness, Stage IV lung cancer and the prognosis was not bright, you make certain goals to get through another day. That goal was to see my son graduate and go off to college.

Will you sign the petition to let Austin Fisher walk?


Image via Adrian Sampson/Flickr

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Pinst... Pinstripes4

If he has met the qualifications for graduating, this seems like a no-brainer. His absences were due to extenuating circumstances. Banning him from the ceremony sends the message that he should have chosen his school over his mom with no compromise, even though he balanced both acceptably. I'm definitely signing this petition.

Mummy... MummyMomo

I'm siging it right now.

MsBatman MsBatman

Playing devil's advocate here, a student is required, not only to pass a certain number of classes in specific subjects, but also to attend school a specific number of days.  While I get the reason why he was absent all those days is heartbreaking and conpletely understandable, there are certain guidelines that must be met. 

My senior year, my father was transfered to a new job in January.  Because I had met all qualifications for a high school diploma I was allowed to graduate.  Because I was not going to be in school for the 2nd half of the year, I would not be allowed to participate in my graduation ceremony.

Sure, it's not quite the same thing... they are allowing him to graduate, just not participate in the ceremony. In the overall grand scheme of things? The diploma is more important than the ceremony.

LoSawyer LoSawyer

This happened to me (my dad was battling heart disease and in & out of the hospital) but instead of fighting it I dropped out. I hope he fights it, finishes his credits, and walks across that stage proudly!

Mary Renner

Signed it & supporting them on FB. It's a once-in-a-lifetime event and his mother's dying wish. Give me a break!!!

mande... manderspanders

If only more kids were like this... Taking care of sick family members is truly a selfless act; and I'm sure this young man learned more through this experience than he could have learned in school.

I signed it.

nonmember avatar len

Have people lost all common sense? The school board should be ashamed of themselves.

Todd Vrancic

I signed it.  You let him walk with his class so his dying mother can watch, and then ask him to make up the days over the summer if the attendance numbers are THAT important to you.  I think the school board is made up of officious a**holes.

Amand... AmandaSnyder

You bet I'll sign it... My mom had cancer when I was 13 though she servived and I moved on to grad in 2006 I see this young man's heart break.  The school is seriously not thinking.  Infact mom sould be able to give him his deploma!  Let Fish walk is the best motto ever! You go son keep caring for your momma.

Melis... Melissa042807

If he earned enough credits, he should graduate. Pretty cut and dried to me. So did he? 

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