High school principal escorted off-campus in California following graduation speech

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STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — A graduation speech resulted in a high school principal being escorted off-campus in Stockton, California.

Although the graduating class of 2021 was able to receive an in-person ceremony during a global pandemic, the event did not commence without controversy. 

The speech was delivered at Stagg High School Thursday morning and some attendees say there was nothing wrong with the content, while others claim the principal made the event about himself.

Stockton Unified School District spokesperson Melinda Meza says Stagg High School Principal Ben Nakamura was escorted off campus after his speech.

“Today was about celebrating the students,” Meza explained. “Unfortunately, Mr. Nakamura chose to use this platform for his own grievances. He was escorted to his car, and he did turn in his keys.” 

In a video circulating on social media, Nakamura tells the graduates to study hard and do their best. 

He also touched on his personal experience of losing his mother to a heroin overdose, violence in neighborhoods, race and helping the next generation. 

“He said such things as, ‘Successful people only get that way by stomping on each other,’” Meza said. “We got numerous calls from parents complaining saying that the principal was using the graduation as a platform to share his own grievances.”  

District officials asked Nakamura not to attend the noon and 3 p.m. ceremonies. 

Sofia Colón, who has children attending school in the district, told FOX40 that Nakamura is loved by his students. 

She says she can’t believe what happened. 

“Anger, shock, sadness,” Colón said. “That speech tells me how honest this principal is with his students. Tell the students, be a mentor to your little brothers and sisters. He told us where he came from, how relatable, how vulnerable. That was my takeaway: Don’t be a sellout, tell the truth.” 

In the speech, Nakamura says he would not return to the high school because the school’s board of trustees voted to remove him. No reason was given for his removal. 

FOX40 tried to get in touch with Nakamura, who would only say that he was laid off and tried to reapply for the job but the board did not approve to bring him back. 

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