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Devan Solanki was expecting to give a speech at the Lodi High School graduation; after all, he was the school’s valedictorian and is headed to Harvard in the fall. Instead, the school is replacing him with another student, which has led to Solanki’s suspension and a request for a psychiatric evaluation. He also will now not be allowed to walk across the stage at graduation, according to NJ.com:
Devan Solanki, the Ivy League-bound valedictorian at Lodi High School, says school officials have plotted against him – first by stripping him of the opportunity to deliver the graduation speech, then by suspending him, and finally, by requiring that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation before he can return to school.
The school administration is defending its actions and blames Solanki. They reference his past disciplinary issues and the counselor interpreting Solanki’s statement, “I just want to resolve this peacefully,” as a threat.
Students, however, are backing Solanki by protesting at the school on Tuesday, June 16.
“The student body agreed unanimously … that Devan deserved to give the speech,” said Goraz Kumar, the National Honor Society president, a junior. “When we found out that he wouldn’t get a chance to give the speech, that he had to get mentally evaluated to come back to school, we all thought that was enough and we need to voice our opinion.”
School administrators and teachers continue to tell us their job is to teach students how to think critically. Solanki, who is obviously a very smart student who thinks for himself and questions the administration’s rules, is subject to abnormally harsh punishment as a result. In essence, as Solanki graduates, his last lesson from his high school will be: “Don’t critically think for yourself about what the education bureaucracy tells you; just obey our rules or you will be punished.”