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Family: Suspension hearing over video

Jessica Barba, 15, is flanked her parents Michael,

Jessica Barba, 15, is flanked her parents Michael, right, and Jody as she addresses reporters in front of their Ridge home. (May 23, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The father of the Longwood High School ninth-grader who was suspended from school after she created a fictional YouTube video about bullying said Wednesday morning he expects to meet with school officials Thursday.

"I just have to meet with the principal tomorrow," Michael Barba said in a telephone interview with Newsday after appearing on the "Today" show with his wife, Jody, and their 15-year-old daughter, Jessica.

"I can't say too much. I don't know too much. They reached out to me. It seems they want to get this resolved," he told Newsday.

During the show, host Matt Lauer said there would be a suspension hearing later in the morning that the parents would miss, and both parents nodded in agreement.

Officials of the Longwood School District said Wednesday they could not comment because of student privacy concerns.

Jessica said during the show that her video, which also included an anti-bullying Facebook page, had a disclaimer stating that the bullying victim, who commits suicide, was fictional. Lauer said it should have been simple for the parents to clear up the matter by printing out the Facebook page and showing it to the school.

"I did print it out and I brought it to them and they still, they didn't really care too much about that," Jody Barba said.

Michael Barba told Lauer that he hoped the matter would be resolved. "All I expect is her to be able to go back to school, erase the suspension, because it was a mistake, and be able to turn in the project," he said.

"This is a great project. There's thousands of people that love it. It can be fixed. This can be fixed, simple," he said.

The Suffolk County Police Department said Tuesday that "no crime has been committed" in the case.

Jessica Barba said she does not understand her suspension. "I don't get it."

Barba said she posted the anti-bullying video May 15 as part of a school project on persuasive speech. The next day, a school official told her she was suspended for a week, beginning May 17, she said.

While school officials have declined to comment on the suspension, they did say that a parent had notified police of the video.

In the video, Barba portrays a 12-year-old who is bullied in school and online. A caption near the end states the girl committed suicide. The clip opens and closes with a note saying the character is fictional.


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