Hillsborough Schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia says Wharton High School Principal Bradley Woods made the right decision on salutatorian's speech

6:08 PM, Jun 11, 2013   |    comments
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Harold Shaw appears on Bubba the Love Sponge's radio show.
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Tampa, Florida -- It's been a week since Wharton High School's principal cut short the salutatorian's speech during graduation and, a week later, 17-year-old Harold Shaw's story is getting more attention.

On Tuesday, Shaw appeared on Bubba the Love Sponge's radio show. While many say the principal overreacted, the school district's superintendent supports the principal's decision.

"It put a damper on the graduation for parents and for the valedictorian who came up afterwards," said Shaw during the Bubba show.

Bubba and his crew said the principal owes Shaw and his family an apology.

During Wharton High School's graduation a week ago Monday, Shaw was giving the salutatorian speech approved by Principal Bradley Woods. The principal and Hillsborough School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia were seen following along, and four minutes in, the student with the 7.31 GPA appeared to lose his place and ad-libbed.

"Remember....do what it takes," said Shaw.

Shaw returned to his script but his slip was enough for Woods to cut his mike and his speech short.

"I'm in support of the principal -- he had to make a call. We want to make sure we have the seriousness and formality of a graduation," Elia said.

Elia said Shaw had been put on notice. 

"When this gentleman veered off he was aware of the consequences for that."

Last month, Shaw produced a video and posted it on YouTube complaining of the school's bathroom conditions. It's an issue Shaw wrote about in the first draft of his speech -- a speech he rewrote three times before finally being approved.

Elia said she attended nearly every graduation this year and that Shaw's presentation set an uneasy tone.

"For 25 of 27 graduations this was an unusual presentation. How so? He took his hat off took his stole off," Elia also said he was overly animated.

Shaw's attorney Tom Parnell says administrators are making excuses.

"This is spin. They're trying to justify what happen."

Parnell says Shaw merely showed his excitement during his speech and believes he has a case.

"Yes, in my opinion, his free speech has been violated."

10 News tried repeatedly to reach out to Principal Bradley Woods so he can explain in his own words why he cut Shaw's speech short. He has not returned any of our phone calls.

Isabel Mascarenas

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