Jessica Barba, a 15-year-old student at Longwood High School in Long Island, N.Y., was given a five-day suspension after an anti-bullying video she made for a class project featured a fake suicide, NBC New York reports.
According to the station, the anti-bullying video was for a homework assignment and featured Barba playing the role of Hailey Bennett, a fictional teen bullying victim who falls into a depression and ultimately kills herself.
A parent failed to realize the character was fictional, became alarmed and called the school. The principal then suspended Barba, saying the video caused disruption in the school.
"When they told me I was suspended I just started hysterically crying," Barba told WPIX-TV, saying there was plenty of indication that the video was a work of fiction. The station reports Barba was asked to take the video off YouTube, but decided to repost it instead because she believed her message was too important.
“I just created the video in order to raise awareness of the major issue that’s bullying,” Barba told Matt Lauer on "TODAY." “I don’t understand why I’m being punished for it.”
Michael, Barba's father, told Lauer the punishment is "extensive."
In the interview with WPIX-TV, Barba's mother Jodi agreed.
"For them to even say a 5 day suspension to begin with is crazy," Jodi told the station. "But then to say we're going to have a hearing and possibly even suspend her for the rest of the year and maybe even next year and it's just insane."
The Long Island Press reports that the Longwood Central School District will not comment on the incident or reason for punishment, and that Barba faces a school hearing today about further suspension.
For more on the story, visit Pix 11 News. Watch Barba's video for the assignment and her interview on "TODAY," below:
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