NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — Students, parents and community members gathered Monday outside the central office for Craven County Schools to express their frustrations over two issues currently happening.

Nine On Your Side spoke to people who were there. They said they wanted to support the recently suspended New Bern High School Principal Jerry Simmons and school counselor Heidi Ricks.

Both were placed on paid suspension from the school last week. Craven County Schools Public Information Officer Jennifer Wagner cited privacy laws as why the reason for their suspension was not released.

Many also expressed their frustration about school graduation requirements, saying some seniors were told Monday by the school they could not walk at graduation because they lacked course requirements.

“There are kids out here,” said New Bern High School senior Elijah Tripp.”It’s not fair to them, especially when they have family that drove down here, bought these cap and gowns and stuff like that which were not cheap at all. It’s just not fair to them.

“It’s just upsetting, you know? Obviously our class in 2023, they’re going to be walking on Friday, can’t speak for everybody. I know I won’t be because of this situation.

“It sounds like it’s over 100 now students that just are not going to be able to graduate.”

Craven County Schools released a statement regarding that situation, saying, “At the end of every school year our high schools are tasked with notifying parents whose students are not eligible to graduate based on the final outcome of their last semester of school.

“In order for seniors to be eligible to graduate, they must meet all course and attendance requirements established by the state to earn credit toward achieving their diploma.

“It is the goal of Craven County Schools for all seniors to have an opportunity to walk with their classmates on graduation day.

“We also offer many options to help students earn credit over the summer and receive their diploma once all necessary requirements fulfilled.”