Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Elia defends Wharton principal for cutting graduation speech

TAMPA — A Wharton High School student whose graduation speech was cut short last week was simply experiencing consequences, superintendent MaryEllen Elia said Tuesday.

Responding to reports that salutatorian Harold Shaw felt punished because of his earlier criticism of conditions at the school, Elia defended principal Bradley Woods during the Hillsborough County School Board meeting.

Woods ended Shaw's speech abruptly at the June 3 ceremony. A district spokesman said it appeared Shaw might go off script during the speech, which went through several revisions before it was approved.

"When a student decides to challenge the rules or break the rules and the student is surprised that there are consequences, I am surprised," Elia said Tuesday.

She did not specify what officials thought Shaw might say. But she lamented that he never met with the principal afterward.

"At the end of the evening, Mr. Woods said to him, 'Give me a call and we can talk when you come in to get your diploma,'" she said. "He hasn't called Mr. Woods. He went by the office to get his diploma. He didn't ask to see Mr. Woods, who happened to be there. Instead, he and his family had a lawyer contact Mr. Woods and me."

Lawyer Thomas Parnell said the family hired him because they were concerned Woods might impose conditions before giving Shaw his diploma or forwarding his records to the University of Florida. He advised Shaw not to meet with Woods.

"I know that Harold did not ask to see him, nor did he want to see him," Parnell said.

Elia defends Wharton principal for cutting graduation speech 06/11/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 12:12am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Senate Obamacare effort dies; Rubio in favor of repeal, Nelson against


    WASHINGTON - The Senate Republican effort to Obamacare failed early Friday, with John McCain providing a decisive vote.

    The Senate vote
  2. Senate ponders health care bill it doesn't want to be law


    Buoyed by a signal from House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a pared-down health care bill late Thursday that he hoped would keep alive Republican ambitions to repeal Obamacare.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., left, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expressed concerns about passing the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare without assurances of further negotiations.
  3. Arrest made in shooting death of 19-year-old found in lot


    A 20-year-old Tampa man was arrested Thursday night for the shooting death of a 19-year-old whose body was discovered in a vacant lot on Tuesday.

  4. Rays fall to Yankees in 11 on Brett Gardner homer (w/ video)

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — The front office did its part Thursday, making two trades to bolster the roster in a push for the playoffs. But the Rays didn't follow up in a frustrating 6-5 11-inning loss to the Yankees.

    Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge stands on the mound and can only watch as the Yankees’ Brett Gardner starts to circle the bases after his walkoff home run leading off the 11th inning.
  5. Believe it! Rays are buyers, trade for reliever Dan Jennings and 1B/DH Lucas Duda

    The Heater

    NEW YORK — Dan Jennings' ability to render lefty hitters useless with a sinker that gets beaten into the ground and Lucas Duda's power to blast baseballs off and over outfield walls should make the Rays better.

    Lucas Duda