Henry County, AL - Controversy has been brewing in Henry County for nearly a month over a high school senior who wouldn't be allowed to graduate. Tuesday, he took one final step to try and participate in his graduation ceremony.
His parents filed a motion for declaratory judgment and a temporary restraining order, and the judge ruled in his favor.
Circuit Judge Brad Mendheim presided over the hearing in the case of Aaron Sanders.
Sanders was originally told he couldn’t participate in Headland High School's graduation ceremony because he failed a portion of the Alabama high school graduation exam.
His mother, Amy, said she wasn’t asking for a diploma. She simply wanted him to walk across the stage.
“They've done the right thing for the children. It is the wrong thing for them not to be able to walk. It shouldn't have came to this point. It should not have come to this point,” said Amy Sanders.
School board members say they were following the policy that had been in place since 1998.
It took Mendheim more than two hours to make that final decision, allowing Aaron to walk in graduation Tuesday night.
In the official order he said, “In this case the school board has not adequately explained the basis for the policy at issue as applied to a student under these or similar circumstances.” It went on to read, “Apparently, many other school systems in the state would allow this student to participate in graduation activities under these circumstances and apparently the state school superintendent would approve the student’s participation.”
Sanders did not receive a diploma; he simply walked across the stage and shook the superintendent and principal's hands.
“Aaron is just overwhelmed. When he heard the news he just started crying and we all did. There were a lot of bear hugs from friends and family. I'm overwhelmed right. I'm still kind of numb and I believe Aaron is too,” said Sanders.
The courtroom was full of other students from Abbeville High School who will not be allowed to walk in their graduation later this week, but the ruling could open up the option for them to file for an injunction.