Archive for Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Valedictorian offered diploma but no apology

June 30, 2004

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— A valedictorian who was denied her high school diploma after she criticized her school during a graduation speech will receive her sheepskin Thursday, but she still doesn't have an apology, she said.

A tearful Tiffany Schley, 17, appeared Monday outside City Hall with her mother and supporters, including a city councilman, to demand that education officials say they're sorry.

"I had things to say. I had opinions and ideas," Schley said at the news conference. "I stand by what I said because it was the truth, and the truth hurts."

In her graduation speech Thursday, Schley complained that Brooklyn's High School of Legal Studies was overcrowded and that the teaching and guidance counseling were inadequate.

Schley, accepted to Smith College on a full scholarship and voted "Most Likely to Succeed" by her classmates, was refused her diploma when she went to pick it up the next day.

Schley also said school officials had tried to rewrite the speech before the commencement, replacing negative parts with praise for the school and its administration.

"It is an absolute outrage," said Councilman Charles Barron, who appeared with Schley. "The criticism should have been welcome. To punish her is unconscionable."

Officials said over the weekend that the diploma would be issued, and a ceremony was set for Thursday.

Schley says that is not enough, and after the news conference, she and Barron went to the nearby Department of Education to confront officials there. Deputy Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina appeared with the two and said an investigation was under way, but she did not apologize.

Tiffany Schley, center, is comforted by New York City Councilman
Charles Barron, right, as the Rev. Herbert Daughtry looks on, at a
City Hall news conference in New York. Schley was denied her
diploma after criticizing her school during her graduation speech.

Tiffany Schley, center, is comforted by New York City Councilman Charles Barron, right, as the Rev. Herbert Daughtry looks on, at a City Hall news conference in New York. Schley was denied her diploma after criticizing her school during her graduation speech.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday called the withholding of the diploma "a bonehead thing to do by somebody."

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