Valedictorian Silenced

By Rebecca Kern — June 30, 2009 1 min read
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The valedictorian of a charter high school in Los Angeles was barred from making her graduation speech due to her participation in recent school sit-ins organized to protest the direction of the school, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Aurora Ponce, the senior class president of the Accelerated School, one of a family of charter schools in South L.A., said the school administration has also taken away her summer tutoring job and other honors.

“We, as students, we feel like we are not being heard,” said Ponce, who has a near-perfect A average. “The administration treats us like we’re ignorant.”

School officials involved in the incident did not return calls to speak about incident to The Times.

The popular Accelerated School’s collection of schools were once known for their collaborative environment between students and teachers. However, they have recently been criticized for instituting a more hierarchical school-management system that is reportedly unresponsive to parents and students and covert in its decision-making.

Ponce participated in a sit-in along with dozens of other students on May 15, protesting the authoritative management, as well fewer college prep classes, larger class sizes and teacher departures. Although it’s unclear how many students were punished, Ponce said she was immediately escorted from the school and suspended for two days.

Aurelia Teodoro, whose child was also suspended for two days for participating in the sit-in, said, “I’m so angry because they are abusing our kids and the parents and the teachers.”

Update 6/30/09:

Ponce was allowed to give her valedictory speech at the Accelerated School’s graduation ceremony in South L.A. this past Saturday. After two hours of discussion with school officials on Friday, the issue remained unresolved, Ponce said, but ultimately she was given permission to present her speech, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.