A 14-year-old boy protesting a suspension he says was unfair was recently forbidden from giving a prepared speech at a school board meeting. Video of the incident has gone viral online, but school officials are standing by their decision.
It all started when high school freshman Christian Ranieri, who has autism, began reading prepared remarks to his school board in Northport, N.Y. He wanted to ask the board to review a recent suspension he'd been given, arguing that it was discriminatory and would cause a stain to his record.
But officials would not let him give his speech -- which he told local news site Northport Patch he'd spent three hours working on -- because of a law that prevents disciplinary matters from being discussed in public venues.
Click the video above to watch.
After Northport Patch picked up the story early Wednesday morning, it promptly went viral. But the school board says it stands by its decision to prevent Ranieri from delivering his speech.
"The Northport-East Northport Board of Education applauds ninth grade student Christian Ranieri for having the courage to come forward at the Board of Education meeting of Monday, October 7th, to share his perspectives," School Board President Stephen Waldenburg said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post on Wednesday.
"But Christian’s speech veered into a revelation of details regarding a pending disciplinary matter and individuals associated with it, and thus on two occasions, I explained to him why those parts of the speech were inappropriate," Waldenburg continued. "We recognize the sensitivities of this issue, but stand firm in ensuring that we are in full compliance with all State and Federal laws, as our oath of office requires."
At issue was a two-day suspension Ranieri was given earlier in the school year. He was suspended for having had an "outburst" during a discussion with a teacher over his Individualized Education Program and Behavior Intervention Plan, which he says was not properly implemented, according to the full text of Ranieri's speech.
In the video, Superintendent Marylou McDermott explains that parents must write a letter to her office in order to request an appeal of a suspension. She said she's received the Ranieris' letter and that it is currently "under review."
Clarification: This article has been amended to clarify that Ranieri was barred from giving his speech, which mentioned a specific exchange between him and a teacher. He was not barred from speaking altogether.