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Suspended student climate activist can go to prom now. Principal says he was never banned.

South Broward High senior Elijah Ruby, right, received a suspension and was barred from prom for passing out flyers advertising for the Global Youth Climate Strike. Administrators had told him not to distribute the ads. Ruby attended the local Broward County strike on Friday and was told by the administration that he could attend prom.
South Broward High senior Elijah Ruby, right, received a suspension and was barred from prom for passing out flyers advertising for the Global Youth Climate Strike. Administrators had told him not to distribute the ads. Ruby attended the local Broward County strike on Friday and was told by the administration that he could attend prom. Courtesy of Martina Velasquez

A South Broward High School student who had been suspended on Thursday and barred from senior events including prom can now attend them, according to the Broward County School District. Senior Elijah Ruby, 17, had been passing out flyers advertising the Global Youth Climate Strike when administrators removed him from school and issued the prom ban. He had been previously told not to distribute the flyers.

But South Broward Principal Patricia Brown made statements to South Broward students and on Twitter seemingly denying the original punishment. She implied that Ruby had lied in the initial Herald article and that Ruby had never been banned from prom.

That is not true, Ruby and his family say.

“He is being 100 percent honest,” Ben Ruby, Elijah’s father, told the Miami Herald.

Administrators called the family on Thursday afternoon and informed them of the punishment, according to Ruby and his family.

In an audio recording obtained by the Herald, the voice of a woman students identified as Principal Patricia Brown told the school during morning announcements: “I do want to thank everybody that was able to look past a media story and know our hearts. Not everything you read or see in the news is a hundred percent correct, especially if you do not have the entire story.”

“So please understand, I want to be clear: there is not a single person who has lost their senior privileges for the school year,” she continued. “I am very proud to say: Don’t believe the hype.”

Brown later issued a statement on Twitter that read: “We would NEVER take discip. action for doing something good for our planet. NO ONE lost their prom. Our sdts do positive & powerful work here! I am saddened misinformation will overshadow that.”

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A Twitter statement by South Broward High School principal Patricia Brown on Friday appeared to deny that the day before administrators had barred senior Elijah Ruby from prom and other senior events. The next day they called Ruby’s family and said the senior privileges had been reinstated, the family said. Brown declined to comment.

Brown declined to comment to the Miami Herald.

According to Elijah Ruby and his parents, an assistant principal called the family Thursday afternoon and told Elijah’s father that Elijah would be suspended and barred from prom for passing out the flyers.

In a statement to the Herald on Friday, the school district said disciplinary action was taken “only because of the student’s noncompliance of the request from the school’s administration and misrepresentation of the School District.”

According to the District’s statement, the flyers implied that “the District was organizing the strike.” If Ruby had “reprinted and redistributed the flyers without the misleading impression that the District was organizing the strike, the administration would not have taken disciplinary action.”

“The student’s prom and other senior activities have not been affected,” the District said in a statement to the Herald Friday, the day after administrators told Ruby he would be missing prom.

Ruby’s father said he thought his son may have deserved the suspension for violating school policy. But he said he did not agree with the fact that the principal made Elijah seem like he had not been honest about receiving a ban from prom.

When Principal Brown called the family Friday morning to inform them that Elijah could now go to the prom, administrators still left homecoming up in the air, Ruby’s father said.

“They are still saying that homecoming is a big question mark,” Ruby’s father said. “Which kind of lends itself to the same rationale.”

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A copy of the flyer distributed by Elijah Ruby. Courtesy of Elijah Ruby

On Friday Ruby and other students from across Broward County attended the Global Youth Climate Strike outside the local school board’s offices. They stood in solidarity with students all over the state and the rest of the world.

“I would like to say that I am extremely proud of all the students that did attend,” Elijah said. “We had a great turnout and I am proud of that.”

Brown reportedly told students in the morning announcement that South Broward would not be sponsoring a field trip to the strike “because it is an open protest available to anybody in the public.”

“It is my job to guard and protect you as our students here,” she said. “I share with you that I love you. I do not make decisions that are popular or easy. I make decisions that are right and in your best interests all the time.”

Ruby disagreed with his principal’s logic.

“To me, the most dangerous thing is not allowing students to be activists about climate change because when it is too late 11 years from now, the [school board] building is going to be underwater.”

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