Terminally ill student given green light to return to Independence High School

Students walk out of class to protest treatment of terminally ill student at Independence High
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 4:22 PM EDT
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UPDATE: According to Nate Rhodes’ father, Donnie Price, his son will be allowed to return to school following a meeting at the Raleigh County Board of Education on Monday.


UPDATE: According to Nate’s father, Donnie Price, the principal at Independence High School is now recommending reinstating Nate pending a meeting at the Raleigh County Board of Education on Monday. He said the meeting is to discuss his care while he is in school.

While students had previously scheduled a walk-out again for Monday, it’s unclear whether that walk will continue in light of the principal’s latest recommendation. WVVA News will have another update on the story on Monday.


COAL CITY, W.Va. (WVVA) -Dozens of students at Independence High School left the building on Friday. They were protesting what they described as the unfair treatment of a terminally ill student named Nate Rhodes.

WVVA News spoke with Rhodes’ father, Donnie Price, on Friday morning. He declined to go into the details of his son’s departure from the school, except to say that the situation was “grossly mishandled and would like to make sure the school handles things differently in the future.”

While he said his son was not well enough to attend the protest, that did not stop his classmates from turning out in force.

“Through three years of fighting cancer, with chemo, he was everyone’s best friend. He never had a bad thing to say about anything. Even through all of that, he had a smile on his face and kept trucking,” said Cynthia Derringer, a family friend.

Due to the fact that many of the students were minors, WVVA News did not record video of their faces except for those with parental consent. Brian Akers came out to participate with his daughter, Haylie.

“I teach my daughter to stand up for kids,” said Akers, on his decision to come out and support his daughter at the protest. “I want her to know this is okay. She might get in trouble for it, but I’ll take the blame. This is what we do...when one of our own is having a bad time, we stand up for them.”

As for the Board of Education’s response to the protest, multiple calls to the BOE went unreturned.

Rhodes’ father said his son is so appreciative of the community’s support.

“He knows...all of these people are showing up for him and all of these people love him and we’ll always stand by him no matter what,” adds Derringer.

While the protest at Independence High was largely a peaceful one, one student was pulled over during the protest by deputies for reckless driving.