66° Good Evening
66° Good Evening
Long IslandSuffolk

Longwood student suspended over video

Jessica Barba, 15, sits in her bedroom in

Jessica Barba, 15, sits in her bedroom in her home in Ridge. (May 21, 2012) Credit: Randee Daddona

A Longwood High School freshman who created an anti-bullying YouTube video and Facebook page about a fictitious teenager who committed suicide after being mistreated said she has been suspended from school.

Jessica Barba, 15, said Monday that she shot the six-minute film last week for a class project on persuasive speech and posted it online May 15. The next day, a school official told her she was being suspended, she said.

Longwood Superintendent Allan Gerstenlauer, in a statement, said the incident "is very unfortunate in that it created a substantial disruption to the school."

Gerstenlauer would not identify the student involved, or elaborate on the suspension, including any reason for it.

School board president Michael Loguercio said that a concerned parent -- who Loguercio said did not understand that the Facebook page was fictitious -- alerted police.

Suffolk police said a resident called on May 15 and that they are investigating.

In the video, Barba plays a 12-year-old who is regularly bullied and grows increasingly depressed and isolated. The title of the video and statements at the beginning and the end say it is fictitious.

"I chose bullying because it is a problem that I feel strongly about," she said. "I believe that bullying has to end."

The video, which went live May 15 about 10:30 p.m., ends with the girl running into her bedroom and slamming the door; a caption says she committed suicide.

Barba's father, Michael, said his daughter is being treated unfairly. He said he's proud of the video and hopes the school will allow her to return.

"It says that it is a fake for a school project," he said. "It's just kind of a crazy thing that went out of control. There was no malice here."

Jessica Barba said she was surprised the video garnered so much attention and support. Several students posted links to the clip and many complimented her on YouTube for her efforts.

She said she was suspended for a week, starting last Thursday.

Loguercio said principals can only suspend students for a week. The student then must appear at a special hearing to determine whether the punishment will be extended, he said.

Michael Barba said a hearing date has not been set.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Latest Long Island News