Valedictorian who was denied speech gets apology

It’s been an emotional 48 hours for University High School's valedictorian, Kriya Naidu.

Naidu says she was told just hours before graduating Tuesday that she would not be delivering her graduation speech, because she had not pre-recorded it. As FOX 35 reported on Wednesday, Naidu says she got a call from her assistant principal last Thursday, asking her to pre-record it on Friday.

A spokesperson with the Orange County Public Schools says she was told pre-record it or don’t deliver it at all.  Naidu says she was never given an ultimatum.  

FOX 35 stepped in Wednesday night, looking for answers.  On Thursday, Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins sent Naidu an email apologizing.  

“I'm glad that the district and the higher-ups recognized that it's an issue,” said Naidu.  

In the email, Dr. Jenkins said she was made aware of the situation on Wednesday afternoon and that she is deeply saddened.

"I want to assure you that my office nor the school board had been aware of this issue prior to the UHS graduation ceremony," Dr. Jenkins wrote.

She went on to apologize for mistakes made and she noted the Naidu’s should expect a phone call from the UHS principal.  Kavitha Naidu, Kriya’s mother, says she got the call from Principal, Dr. Carcara.  

“She went through several bullet points of an apology for what had happened to Kriya,” Kavitha Naidu says.

She says Dr. Carcara apologized for mispronouncing Kriya’s saying, “That she usually has difficulties saying her first name.”  

She says Dr. Carcara accepted blame for not following tradition in having the valedictorian walk first.

“She said that just in the moment with everything going on with some anxiety she sent the kids across the stage,” Kavitha Naidu recalled from the conversation.

She did note that the principal did not apologize for not letting Kriya deliver her speech Tuesday, “but the impact of what we experienced as a family. Said that wasn't her intention,” Kavitha Naidu said.  

Kriya video recorded herself giving her speech and posted it to all over social media platforms.  It’s been seen tens of thousands of times online.  Dr. Jenkins extended an invitation for Kriya to deliver her speech live at the next school board meeting. While she’s thankful for the concession and plans on going, she says it just won’t be the same as it would have been delivering her words to her classmates.

 “My graduation day passed because I didn't get that special moment and my family didn't get to share in that special moment with me,” said Kriya.  

She’s hoping with the attention of the school board, another valedictorian won’t have get slapped with a list minute surprise like she says she did.  

“I am glad they're looking into the situation,” said Naidu. 

Naidu will be giving her speech at the OCPS School Board meeting on June 11.