Community takes aim at principal after student's mic cut during speech

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The Petaluma community took aim at a principal Tuesday night after a student's microphone was cut during her graduation speech. (KGO-TV)

The Petaluma community took aim at a principal Tuesday night after a student's microphone was cut during her graduation speech.

They spoke out that the problem is not just censorship, but the school turning a blind eye to sex assault.

"My sophomore year I was sexually assaulted at Petaluma High School in the band room," Bailey Walston said.

RELATED: Petition to remove Petaluma High School principal who cut mic during speech

In front of microphones, the school board and a room full people, Walston spoke through tears about a deeply personal trauma that she wishes would have inspired more change within the school district.

"He assaulted another girl because he got away with it, and I just want that to never happen to another girl again," said Walston, a Valley Oaks High School graduate.

Walston and others with painted purple "let her speak" signs, lined up for public comment after Petaluma High valedictorian, Lulabel Seitz, had her microphone cut during her graduation speech.

Seitz says she was sexually assaulted by another student and that the school feared she would name that student during her speech.

RELATED: Controversial speech marks Petaluma graduation

She spoke to ABC7 by phone about a new online petition, with thousands of signatures, to remove Petaluma High's principal.

"I would say if he doesn't change his policies and behaviors like he hasn't been, and if he doesn't take what happened as a wake-up call, then he either needs to be retrained or removed," Seitz said.

"I'm here because I feel like we can do more," she said.

Colin Caldwell is a history teacher at a Petaluma junior high and has two daughters in the district, one of whom was sexually harassed at school. He spoke at the meeting and says schools need to more openly support victims.

"Girls are harassed, sometimes they're touched when they don't want to be touched and while as educators we can't control all that stuff, we can control how we respond," Caldwell said.

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Related Topics:
educationgraduationschoolhigh schoolfreedom of speechsexual assaultsex crimestudentsstudent safetyPetaluma
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