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L.I. Girl Suspended Over Anti-Bullying YouTube Video Reinstated

Jessica Barba's Record To Be Cleared, Her Project Handed In For Grade
Jessica Barba (credit: CBS 2)

Jessica Barba (credit: CBS 2)

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MIDDLE ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Long Island student who was suspended over her anti-bullying video and fake Facebook page has been reinstated.

Jessica Barba happily went back to Longwood High School Thursday morning.

“I feel great,” she said. “I get to go back to school and I get to see all my friends and I get to also hand in the project that created all this.”

“It’s going to be graded. She hands in the project and her video made it around the world in three, four days,” Michael Barba, the teen’s father, told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

After meeting with school administrators, Barba’s father said his daughter received an apology and a promise that the suspension will be wiped off her transcript.

WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reports

The 15-year-old was suspended last week after a parent lodged a complaint about the six-minute video, which depicted a fictional student committing suicide.

“I was trying to get across that bullying is a huge problem in the United States and it’s worldwide now,” Barba said. “I feel passionate about the topic I used, and feel very proud of what I did.”

“Bullying is 100 percent preventable,” she told CBS 2’s Gusoff.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports

Barba wrote, shot, edited and starred in the video, along with her brother and dog, as part of a class project for her ninth grade communication course.

The video follows the story of “Hailey Bennett,” a fictional character Barba created to raise awareness about bullying. The character had perfect grades but committed suicide after being bullied at school and enduring abuse from her father.

Barba posted her project on Facebook and YouTube and the text clearly spelled out the story was fictional. But when a parent called police to complain, the school district claimed it caused a disruption and suspended Barba for five days.

Watch The Video Here:

Middle Island school officials offered no details on Thursday’s discussions, citing privacy laws, but Barba’s father said the district explained the suspension was a misunderstanding.

“We would like to shed more light on the situation, but are unable to release any details of the matter due to student privacy laws,” the school said in a statement.

Dr. Allan Gerstenlauer, the school superintendent, said the matter was “thoroughly investigated” and “dealt with” following “normal district procedures.”

Michael Barba said the school called it a misunderstanding.

“There was some confusion because of bigger issues this week and it’s understandable,” he said.

Bigger issues indeed. A Longwood student was killed Sunday in a jet ski accident.

Jessica Barba said while the suspension was unpleasant, her anti-bullying message reached a lot more people because of it. She hopes to get an “A” on the project.

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