In his speech, Ranieri, 14, said that he was trying to self-advocate for his rights after his individualized education plan and behavior intervention plan were not implemented correctly and he suffered the consequences of being suspended for two days from school when he raised his voice in class out of frustration from the prolonged issue.
Since the incident was not written up in his mandated behavior sheet, and because privacy laws bar school staff members from discussing individual behavioral issues in public, it is unclear what took place that day from the teacher’s perspective.
"As the Board of Education President, I felt it was appropriate for Christian to share his thoughts about his personal development and his work as a youth ambassador for the New York State Self-Advocacy Association. But Christian’s speech veered into a revelation of details regarding a pending disciplinary matter and individuals associated with it, and thus on two occasions, I explained to him why those parts of the speech were inappropriate," Waldenburg wrote.
Though Ranieri did not mention any specific names in his speech, the school board president stopped Ranieri from speaking twice, stating that a public meeting was the inappropriate audience for what appeared to be a personal, behavioral matter.
"I explained to Christian and those in attendance that under the law, student disciplinary matters are confidential. It was my conclusion, supported by our legal counsel at the table, that Christian’s revelation of this information was inappropriate because it potentially compromised the pending disciplinary matter and revealed personal protected information. As a result, I had to insist that he not provide any more information about it," Waldenburg said.
Ranieri's parents defended their son's actions, stating that as a member of the public, their son was there to tell his story of what he felt to be discrimination based on his disability and his efforts to self-advocate, but was not asking for the board to discuss the details of the incident in public.
"The Board of Education always has and always will support the public’s voice, be they students or any community members. We are also committed to protecting personal rights as defined by the law, particularly those in which the Board is empowered to be the ultimate arbiter. We recognize the sensitivities of this issue, but stand firm in ensuring that we are in full compliance with all State and Federal laws, as our oath of office requires," Waldenburg said.
Since Monday, Ranieri has experienced at outpouring of support from the community. Video footage of the board meeting has also garnered more than 20,000 views on YouTube as of Thursday morning.
"The feedback has overwhelmingly positive," Carina Ranieri, the teen's mother, said. "For those who know our family, we hold Christian's emotional well being above all else. Never in a million years did we think this would result from Christian speaking at the BOE. This was purely a therapeutic issue. He wanted to be heard by those who make the decisions in the district. If we at any point we imagined that he would be brushed aside, we would never have allowed for him to go on Monday night. He has been put through enough stress since school began."