Anti-bully video project gets girl suspended - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Anti-bully video project gets girl suspended

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By Pei-Sze Cheng, WNBC
 
A Middle Island, New York high school student has been suspended for five days after she created an anti-bullying video featuring a fictitious suicide for a class project and posted it online.

Jessica Barba, 15, shot the six-minute video for an assignment in her business and communications class at Longwood High School. She says she had been asked to create a persuasive promo or advertisement.

In the video, Barba plays a girl who is regularly bullied, falls into a depression, is taunted on social media sites and eventually kills herself. Statements at the beginning and the end say it is fictitious.

Barba, who said she enjoys creating music and other videos, posted her school project on YouTube and Facebook May 15.

The next day, the student said, students were already talking about it at school and some were even moved to tears.

"I was asked to go to the office and I thought they were going to pat me on the back for the job I did on the video," Barba said. "Instead, the principal told me I would be suspended for five days because my video disrupted the school."

Superintendent Allan Gerstenlauer said Tuesday that the video was "unfortunate in that it created a substantial disruption to the school."

For the video, Barba created a fake Facebook page for her character, and even though it was noted that the page was not real, a parent saw the video, became alarmed and called the police.

Barba claims she gave up the password to the fake Facebook page after the assistant principal asked her for it, but the school denies that.

"All I know is," Barba said, "when I went back to re-log in again, I was blocked and now the page has been taken down."

According to Barba, school officials suggested she remove the video from the web because that would help soften the blow of her punishment.

But when she was suspended for five days, she posted the video back online.

"I hope the school realizes this is wrong because all I wanted to do was highlight an important issue," said Barba. "Maybe this video will make a difference in the way kids see things."

She cannot return to school until after a hearing. Barba's father, Michael, said he's proud of his daughter and he hopes the school will let her return.