Okla. Valedictorian Fights for Diploma

(NECN/KFOR: Sarah Stewart) - An Oklahoma valedictorian is being denied her diploma because of a word she used in her graduation speech.

As Kaitlin Nootbaar settles into her freshman dorm at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, she's getting calls from around the world supporting her quest.

During her speech, she talked about people asking her what she wants to be.

"You know they're going to ask us what we want to be and we're going to say, 'Who the hell knows,' and that's it." 

The school asked for an apology when Nootbaar went to pick up her diploma, but she refused.

"I don't want to because I'm not sorry, so writing an apology letter, that's just going to be a lie. Which if they're saying that my cursing is sinning, that would be another sin, so don't want to have two sins on my hands."

The Prague Superintendent issued a statement:

"My name is Rick Martin. I am the Superintendent at Prague Public Schools. This morning two news articles involving our school district and Kaitlin Nootbar [sic] , the valedictorian for the class of 2012, were brought to my attention. Unfortunately, I have not had any communication with any member of the Nootbar [sic] family regarding this matter. It has been reported that the district is denying Ms. Nootbar [sic] a diploma because of a statement made during the 2012 graduation exercises. My comments are limited to those matters already released to the media by the Nootbar [sic] family.

Valedictorians for Prague Public Schools earn this title through the achievement of academic excellence. Our school has traditionally allowed the valedictorian to speak as part of the district's graduation ceremonies. Speakers are allowed significant freedom in their remarks but all speeches must be approved in advance as being appropriate for graduation exercises. In this case, Ms. Nootbar [sic] prepared an appropriate speech, which was approved by the high school principal. Unfortunately, she did not present the speech as written and used language that was inappropriate for a graduation exercise. Therefore, the high school principal requested a private apology for her transgression before releasing her diploma. His request was both reasonable and in keeping with established federal caselaw interpreting the First Amendment.

Ms. Nootbar [sic] is an outstanding student and her achievements have reflected positively on our district. It is my hope that the family will contact me personally so that this matter may be resolved between the proper parties."
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