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Petaluma School Board Criticized After Valedictorian Silenced

PETALUMA (KPIX 5) -- A Stanford-bound student silenced during her Petaluma High School graduation speech last week had plenty of people speaking up for her Tuesday night.

Petaluma high school valedictorian Lulabel Seitz had her mic cut off last week when she spoke out about sexual assault.

On Tuesday night, the community gave the school board an earful about it.

Bailey Walston, who graduated from Petaluma High two years ago, accused the school district of not doing enough to protect her.

"My sophomore year, I was sexually assaulted at Petaluma High School in the band room. He admitted to it," Walston said at the school board meeting.

She said the student who allegedly assaulted her transferred to another high school where he allegedly committed another assault.

"I just want that to never happen to another girl again, because it's really hard," said Walston.

Students and parents spoke out about the district's handling of alleged sexual assault during the school board meeting in light of the incident at Petaluma High School valedictorian Lulabel Seitz's graduation.

She says administrators cut the microphone when she veered away from the approved speech to bring up the issue of sexual assault on campus.

Valedictorian Mic Cut :: Uncensored Speech by Lulabel R-S on YouTube

"It infuriates me that she was silenced. That is a culture problem, when you are silencing women," said Petaluma parent Jacquelyn Guerrero.

"After this, something has to be done. This can't never happen again and it can't happen starting today," said Petaluma parent Janice Cader Thompson.

At Tuesday night's meeting, people held signs that read "I Stand With Lulabel #LetHerSpeak."

Seitz has also commented on the aftermath of her complaint following graduation.

"As much as some people call me whiny on the Internet or anything, this was an important issue. And I think a lot of people were touched by the message, I guess," said Seitz in a recent interview.

She says she filed a police report after she was sexually assaulted on campus last fall, but claims the school didn't take appropriate actions.

Petaluma student Hailey Caldwell relates to Seitz's experience.

"At junior high I experienced people grabbing me, grabbing my butt, making inappropriate comments at me when I just kinda wanted to learn. So I reported some of these incidents and I felt like I wasn't fully supported," said Caldwell.

"I feel like, as educators in this district, that we can do more. That we're not doing enough to stop sexual harassment," said Hailey's father Colin Caldwell.

District officials did not address the topic of sexual assault Tuesday night because it was not an official item on the agenda.

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