Harvard-bound valedictorian banned from graduation speech in NJ

A northern New Jersey high school has banned its Harvard-bound valedictorian from speaking at commencement, sparking a school-wide controversy.

Devan Solanski tells NJ.com that Lodi High School officials informed him earlier this month he wouldn’t be giving a speech at graduation due to prior disciplinary issues.

Solanski says he then told his guidance counselor he wanted to resolve the conflict “peacefully,” which was interpreted as a threat. Solanski was suspended and ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before returning.

About 90 students held a rally in front of the school Tuesday morning, demanding administrators reverse their decision. Solanski insists his past disciplinary infractions were minor.

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Principal Frank D’Amico declined comment, saying he couldn’t discuss student issues.

A state education department spokesman says Solanski can appeal to the education commissioner.

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