Controversial speech marks Petaluma High School graduation

PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- If Stanford-bound, Petaluma High School Valedictorian Lulabel Seitz wanted to make an impression with commencement speech, she got more than a little help when, at the four-minute mark, administrators cut her microphone. Now, she is calling the act a violation of free speech.

"What I wanted to say is that students are not listened to," she said. 'That people are mistreated when victims of sexual assault on campus, and that arts and music need more funding."

Seconds after the mic went dead, the audience began chanting: "Let her speak! Let her speak!"

It marked the beginning of a controversy that has divided the high school community and now, has found extended life on YouTube.

Seitz admits going off script at the request of classmates. She says the contents of her speech had been part of a difficult negotiation with the school.

"They pre-approved my script but when I went off they did not know what I was going to say," she said.

The Petaluma City Schools District has gone on record defending its right to cut the mic for a speech that went off script, but not much else. On Thursday, the district answered no questions. Instead, they issued only a statement that reads, in part, "Due to student privacy issues, we cannot and should not respond with specific information."

We heard mixed from fellow seniors who came on campus on Thursday.

"She had good intentions," said fellow grad Nicolas Mall. "But, where she did it may not have been the best place for it. Some of it is relevant, but to an extreme, and too personal for everyone to hear."

Graduating senior Luke Haggard added, "I believe in free speech, but because she was going to call out a student, they pulled the mic on her."

Seitz says all would have been fine. As proof, she finished her speech on YouTube.

"Well we have to ask ourselves that if graduation is not the time to push an agenda, then what is?"

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