Principal cuts off salutatorian's graduation speech - FOX 13 News

Principal cuts off salutatorian's graduation speech

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

It's supposed to be a milestone, honoring students who worked their way to the top of their class. But Wharton High School's salutatorian's graduation speech didn't end the way he planned it.

"I've waited all four years, since the beginning of high school to give this speech," Harold Shaw said Friday.

The Wharton High School salutatorian's mic was cut mid-speech on Monday, after his principal says he strayed off topic.

"I was staying on script the whole time. I stumbled at one point. He was just looking for one opportunity, just one opportunity to pounce in there," Shaw said.

The Hillsborough County School District says the principal did the right thing.

"The principal had concerns because the first draft of the speech from the salutatorian was full of some things that were very inappropriate," Hillsborough County School District spokesman Steve Hearty said Friday.

Shaw believes he was targeted, after he created a documentary exposing what he believed were unsanitary bathrooms at the school.

"The conditions are very unacceptable. And the fact it is, they've been denied attention again and again," Shaw said.

The district says it's policy is crystal clear for all graduation speeches: stick to your script or be silenced.

"You have a bunch of kids there full of adrenaline. Many of them are considering doing something that might be very memorable, that would detract from the ceremony. Everyone can remember when they graduated. Somebody wants to do something, right? The principal's responsible for all that," Hearty said.

Shaw says he was robbed of his moment. He's now asking the principal for a public apology.

"I put in the time, put in the school work. I did anything I could to become #2 and that speech was taken away from me," Shaw said.

Despite the scuffle, Shaw did still get his diploma. The school district says the principal has extended an open invitation for Shaw to meet with him.

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