CARROLLTON, Ohio — Thanks in large part to an online petition, a Carrollton High senior will be allowed to walk with his class at graduation despite missing too many school days caring for his sick mother.
Austin Fisher, 17, was initially told that he would not be allowed to graduate. However, administrators with the Carrollton Exempted Village School District decided to make an exception in this case based on “additional information” provided to them at a meeting with Austin and his mother, Teresa Fisher.
Much of the credit for this outcome goes to an online campaign called “Let Fish Walk” that prompted national attention.
Austin missed 16 days of school, two more than the district allows if a student wants to attend prom and/or walk on graduation day. What the district apparently failed to initially consider was that Austin missed all of those days caring for Teresa, who was told last year that her cancer had become terminal.
Austin is the only one home with Teresa, so much of her care fell on him. He chose to focus on his role as son over his obligation as a student. That almost cost him his cap and gown, but the “Let Fish Walk” campaign — more than 85,000 signatures strong — helped to get school administrators to reconsider.
The school district issued the following statement:
“Representatives from Carrollton Exempted Village School District had the opportunity to meet with Teresa and Austin Fisher earlier today (April 16). At that meeting, Teresa Fisher provided additional information to school administrators concerning Austin’s absences, which had not been previously provided to the district. Based on this new information and after careful consideration by school officials and the Board of Education, it was decided that Austin would be permitted to participate in commencement.
In the interest of all of Carrollton’s students, the District and Teresa Fisher ask that the community respect their decision and that everyone move forward. Carrollton Schools is a great place to work and learn and we do not want to be sidetracked from our mission of educating children.”