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June 25, 2019

School district apologizes after valedictorian’s speech was cut off when she mentioned Tamir Rice, Travyon Martin

June 12, 2019
Rooha Haghar, the valedictorian for Emmett J. Conrad High School, said she felt it was an important conversation to have. (CNN / CNN)

A Texas school district apologized after a valedictorian’s speech was cut off by her principal at the mention of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice.

The Dallas Independent School District said in a statement that Valedictorian Rooha Haghar, of the Emmett J. Conrad High School, included remarks in her speech that were not approved by the administration.

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“As a result, the principal made the decision to limit the student’s remarks,” the statement, released Monday, read.

“In hindsight, we realize this decision may not have been reflective of the core values we teach our students, as we work to educate leaders of tomorrow. For that, we apologize.”

Haghar first brought attention to the issue after posting a video on Twitter of the moment her microphone stopped working. In the video, the principal can be seen motioning to someone off-screen after she says, “To the kids that were murdered in senseless mass shootings. To Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and all the other children who became victims of injustice.”

“Our principal signaled for my mic to be turned off as soon as i said ‘trayvon martin and tamir rice’ and played it off as a technical difficulty. Pathetic,” she wrote on June 3.

She admitted that while she was specifically told not to include the names of Martin and Rice, “[she] made a conscious choice and [she] stands behind that choice.”

Haghar later shared the entirety of her speech, in which she remarked that while she and the other students were receiving their diplomas and “moving on to bigger things, there are students who were robbed of this opportunity.”

Haghar said she was not trying to create more divisiveness by bringing attention to the incident, but feels that certain conversations need to be had.

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Martin, 17, was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, in February 2012 in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman was acquitted in his death.

Rice, 12, was shot and killed by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, who was responding to call that someone was pointing a gun at people. Rice was playing with a pellet gun. A Cuyahoga County Grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Loehmann.

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