Valedictorian not permitted to speak at graduation

University High Valedictorian Kriya Naidu told she needed to prerecord speech

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The superintendent of Orange County Schools has apologized after University High School valedictorian Kriya Naidu was not allowed to give her speech at Tuesday's graduation ceremony.

It was a moment she had waited four years for, but instead of addressing her classmates at graduation, Naidu had to post her speech to social media.

As the top student in her class, she was to give the commencement speech.

Initially, she was told she would have the opportunity to give the speech in person the day of commencement. Then, she said her principal told her the address needed to be recorded, and she said she then got a different answer from the assistant principal who said it was something new they were trying.

Not permitted to give her remarks, Naidu posted a recorded version to YouTube.

"University High School of OCPS in Florida did not allow me to say my Valedictory speech, here it is, uncensored," Naidu said in the post, which already has thousands of views.

"On the program my name was still on there to do the valedictory address which again shows that this was all last minute and sudden," Naidu said.

An initial statement from Orange County schools said educators worked closely with Naidu, providing guidance and reviewing her speech.

They said they gave her an opportunity to record it, but she opted out -- but a follow up from the school district came with an apology.

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins contacted Naidu's family and said:

Dear Ms. Naidu,

I was made aware of your situation yesterday afternoon and was deeply saddened.  I want to assure you that my office nor the school board had been made aware of this issue prior to the UHS graduation ceremony.  I apologize to your daughter and family for the unfortunate mistakes made, and assure you that staff involved will be educated as requested.  Our commencement procedures are being reviewed for improvements. You may also expect a follow up call from Dr. Carcara. 

I again commend your daughter for her outstanding accomplishments, and congratulate her parents as well. If she is available I would like to invite Kriya to our next school board meeting on June 11 to give her commencement speech.  Additionally, we can tape her speech in our studio and post it on our web site and social media. Regardless of this error, I have no doubt that Kriya’s future remains extremely bright.  Please convey my regards and that I look forward to seeing her again on June 11th.

Naidu said she plans to attend the school board meeting and give her speech in front of the board. 

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