Local News

Edgecombe County school principal suspended after withholding student's diploma

Posted June 16

— The principal of Southwest Edgecombe High School has been suspended with pay while the district investigates an incident that kept the 2017 class president from getting his diploma at graduation.

Principal Craig Harris reportedly withheld senior Marvin Wright's diploma when Wright read his own, original speech at graduation, refusing to read a speech written by the administration.

The school system gave no specific reason for wanting Wright to recite their simple, short paragraph.

Sources told WRAL News that Wright's speech was too long and that he failed to meet an approval deadline. Wright said he was not aware of any deadline.

In a statement to WRAL News, a school spokesperson said there was nothing wrong with the content of Wright's speech.

Harris hand-delivered a diploma to Wright at his home Sunday afternoon, and the superintendent apologized via phone.


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  • Diana Page Jun 17, 11:04 p.m.
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    This story left out some important details. The student failed to turn in his speech by the deadline assigned by the administration. As a result, he was given a generic speech to read. After he got in front of a live mic, he decided to read his own speech instead of the approved speech. He also read his speech from his cell phone even though electronic devices were not allowed.

  • Curmilus Dancy II Jun 16, 11:12 p.m.
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    An Open Letter To John Farrelly Superintendent Edgecombe County Public Schools In Response To SouthWest Edgecombe Graduation 2017

    I have supported you speaking out when parents talked junk about you and your stand on keeping the children out of school during bad weather because they don’t even want them at home. I still stand with you on that.
    Mr. Farrelly and I regret I can’t call you Dr. Farrelly because the Doctorate that you will receive you are going to receive it soon while you were given the opportunity to obtain it while being our superintendent. The school in Dare County will get to call you Dr. Farrelly soon when you report there on July 1st.
    I am totally embarrassed at what I witnessed one week ago from today when I attended and videoed the graduation. You were there along with the school board members and 2 associate superintendents at least.
    When I read your first response you didn’t say anything about an apology on the internet responding to someone that was share

  • Linda Tally Jun 16, 11:08 p.m.
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    This is a plus for the school district as a whole, and a very big plus for the students and parents who are supposedly served by it.

  • Henry Cooper Jun 16, 7:24 p.m.
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    View quoted thread


    All these folks in government complaining about pay and benefits but who else gets suspended with pay? Anyone in the private sector get that? Their PTO already outweighs most in the private sector. Little to no waiting on a really a good benefits package. Enrolled in the State's retirement program.

    Now do the work and EARN it.

    Freakin' power trip.

  • Robert Swiger Sr. Jun 16, 6:52 p.m.
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    Why not without pay. All he got was a Vacation.

  • Henry Davis Jun 16, 5:49 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Who can or should they sue? Comment makes no sense.

  • Mindi Minguez Jun 16, 5:34 p.m.
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    What are we teaching our kids by making them read a canned speech? It always irritates me as a tax payer to see someone suspended "with pay" when the infraction was as blatant as this one.
    Congratulations Marvin Wright on graduating and standing up for yourself. I bet you never learned *that* lesson in any book.

  • Dan Homiller Jun 16, 4:54 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    The principal didn't "own up" to anything. He was ordered to hand-deliver the diploma, and said only "tell your mom to call me if she has any questions." It was the superintendent who apologized over the phone.

  • Kevin O'Donnell Jun 16, 4:21 p.m.
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    Bad decision by the principal. He owned up to it and hand-delivered the diploma and apologized over the phone. He does not deserve to be suspended. We all make mistakes. His was just a very public mistake.

  • Jean Edwards Jun 16, 4:20 p.m.
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    Principal should be suspended without pay permanently! Such a shame!