UPDATE: There will be three empty chairs during graduation at Fulton High School after all. School officials have backtracked on a new policy after an outcry from the community.

Original Story

A Central New York family is furious over a recent school district change that won't allow empty chairs to honor 3 students who passed away in the last year.

"We were informed that the Fulton City School District has decided to change their policy and not leave open chairs for Brady, Rylee, and Issac to honor them at our graduation."

Two Teens Die in Car Crash

Brady Niver and his girlfriend, Rylee Bartlett were killed in a car accident in April of 2023. Rylee died on the day of the crash. Brady fought hard for more than a week but he passed away 8 days later.

Reese Niver is the triplet sibling of Brady and she's heartbroken over the sudden school district change. "He should be sitting next to me and my sister at graduation."

Credit - Reese Niver/Facebook
Credit - Reese Niver/Facebook

Chairs to Honor Lives Lost

All Reese and her family wanted was to put a picture of Brady on his chair and honor him during the graduation ceremony at Fulton High School this year.

She turned to social media to “stand up for what is right, regardless of who is committing the wrong.”

Reese says she does not intend to cross the stage unless the school district makes things right and allows the chairs to remain empty for the students who were lost. And she's not alone. Her Facebook post had more than 5,500 shares in less than 12 hours.

3 Empty Chairs

Fulton City Schools Superintendent Brian Pulvino says the plan for this year's ceremony includes acknowledging the students by name with a moment of silence following the national anthem, displaying flowers on stage in their memory, and presenting the families with the student's diplomas.

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That wasn't enough for Reese, her family, and the community. And the outcry from the public has school officials changing direction. Pulvino released a station saying there will be 3 empty chairs at graduation after all.

"In order to keep the focus of this momentous occasion where it should be - on the celebration of the many accomplishments of the graduating class of 2024 - and to avoid any further disruption or distress resulting from the implementation of our policy, chairs will be placed in remembrance of our students."

Fulton School
Fulton School

Heather Niver, Brady's mom is grateful to everyone who spoke out against the policy to eliminate the 3 empty chairs this year.

"I've been crying the last 24 hours, no sleep, so devastated, sick to my stomach but then YOU!! You all made this happen," she wrote on social media. "Without all of your support I wholeheartedly believe this would not have been possible.
Thank you will never be enough."

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