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Principal Cuts Off Speech Off Florida High School Salutatorian Harold Shaw

The salutatorian of a high school in Tampa, Fla., had his speech cut short by the school’s principal during graduation.

Wharton High salutatorian, Harold Shaw Jr., spent weeks working a speech he never got to finish because Principal Brad Woods ordered that his microphone be shut off.

Shaw, 17, who graduated with a high grade point average, did not receive his diploma at the ceremony and was escorted out by two Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies who were working security at the event.

Shaw is still not sure why he was cut off, but thinks that Woods might have been retaliating against him. Shaw posted a short film on his Facebook page about the unsanitary conditions in the boys' bathrooms at the high school.

"I think it's revenge," Shaw said.

According to Hillsborough County schools spokesperson, Stephen Hegarty, Woods directed Shaw's microphone be shut off because he had diverted from his preapproved speech.

Shaw’s attorney, Tom Parnell, said his client did not stray from the prepared address.

"I watched the video and read the speech," Parnell said. "It was fantastic. He didn't go off topic; he just stumbled a little."

Parnell plans to consult with Shaw’s parents about their options, The Tampa Tribune reported.

"Mr. Woods' action was reprehensible," he said. "Harold will never get back that day or the memories he should have experienced. It's clear his civil rights have been violated. We will meet with the family to determine what the next step will be."

Sources: The Tampa Tribune, Tampa Bay Times


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