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.

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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