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N.J. principal cuts off salutatorian's graduation speech

By The Associated Press
06.23.08

LINWOOD, N.J. — A student intending to make a speech criticizing school administrators at her high school graduation was cut off in mid-sentence and told to leave the ceremony.

Jennifer Chau, the salutatorian at Mainland Regional High School, started to criticize school administration on June 19 for allegedly playing favorites among students. She scrapped a text that was approved in advance by the school.

"I know this is a community that values education," she said. "That is why you need to know what is really going on behind the walls of Mainland's administrat—"

At that point, Chau's microphone was cut off and Principal Robert Blake told her she would have to leave.

Chau left to chants of "Let her speak!" and "Finish!"

The Georgetown University-bound senior had a dispute with the school over not receiving credit for an honors class she took in her freshman year. She claims that was one reason she finished second in her graduating class, behind a student whose mother is a member of the board of education.

Blake defended his decision to end Chau's speech.

"The student was regressing beyond what we worked with her on, and that's the end of it," he said. "I've met with her on a number of occasions, and I'd be glad to talk with her about her (complaints). This is certainly not the place. In this venue, we are responsible for what is said out here. This is not somebody's front yard."


Related

Valedictorian sues Nev. school for cutting off speech

Federal lawsuit says administrators violated Brittany McComb's religious freedom, free speech by pulling plug on graduation address that included Christian references. 07.15.06

Valedictorian files suit in dispute over religious graduation speech
Erica Corder says Colorado administrators violated free speech by withholding her diploma until she publicly apologized for mentioning Jesus during commencement address. 08.30.07

Calif. school squelches kids' salute to troops, then apologizes
Administrators concede they went too far in ordering fifth-graders to remove rifles from toy soldiers they wore on their mortarboards as patriotic tribute during graduation. 09.14.07

Wash. district's ban on 'Ave Maria' at graduation upheld
By Lydia Hailman King Federal judge finds school barred song to keep graduation nonreligious, not to denigrate a particular religion. 10.12.07

Minn. students barred from graduation for waving Rebel flags
Three high school seniors will still receive their diplomas but were suspended from all school-sponsored activities for carrying Confederate flags in school parking lot. 06.05.08

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