Austin Fisher will walk: Under media pressure, Carrollton superintendent reverses decision

Cameron Smith

The student they call Fish will get to walk at his graduation after all.

In a rapid volte-face, the Carrollton (Ohio) School District has relented and will allow embattled senior baseball player Austin Fisher to walk with his classmates at graduation. The decision was rendered by the school district superintendent on Monday afternoon in the small Ohio town of just more than 3,000 and followed a day when a media blitzkrieg about his predicament received national attention here on Prep Rally, on CNN and elsewhere across the Internet and television news landscape.

As reported by the Canton Repository, Carrollton Superintendent Palmer Fogler unilaterally reversed the prior decisions of school principals to ban Fisher from walking at his graduation with his classmates because he had two too many school absences, making the decision to allow Austin Fisher to walk at graduation a day before the topic was to be discussed at a scheduled school board meeting.

As noted previously here on Prep Rally, all of Fisher's absences were the result of Fisher caring for his mother, Teri Fisher, who was battling Stage IV cancer in fall 2011. According to Fisher's aunt, Cynthia Vignos, the teen's absences were deemed unexcused because Teri Fisher was often too sick to call in and report him or because she needed him to drive her to her chemotherapy treatments, which accounted for absences that would not have qualified to be excused.

Austin and Teresa Fisher — Facebook
Austin and Teresa Fisher — Facebook

There was no official word on whether Austin Fisher would also be allowed to take part in other traditional senior activities like the prom, which he previously would have been excluded from because of his absences.

According to one member of the Carrollton Exempted Village Board of Education, she and her fellow board members were completely unaware of the situation before it began to receive local and national attention, adding that the board planned to launch a full investigation into the previous decision to bar the younger Fisher from taking part in traditional graduation festivities.

"To be honest, we didn't know anything until it hit the media," Carrollton Board President Rose Seck, who spoke with Teri Fisher about the situation on Friday, told the Repository.

As for Austin Fisher himself, the teen told the Repository that he was astonished with the amount of support he received from the entire Carrollton community, all while insisting that he never meant to bring the school's name into disrepute by trying to bring awareness to his unique situation.

"The whole town of Carrollton was behind me. It made me feel good," he said.

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