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For Zimmerman, Top Honor but No Speech

Based on the school’s graduation ceremony program, the East Paulding High senior likely will not get to give a valedictorian speech during the school’s graduation ceremony Saturday.

Jake Zimmerman on Saturday is set to receive the honor of being his school’s top student, but it appears he will not receive the privilege that traditionally goes with it—a chance to address his peers and others in attendance at the graduation ceremony.

Dallas-Hiram Patch received Thursday a copy of East Paulding High’s graduation program booklet. The senior is listed as his school’s valedictorian, while Ann Marie Morehouse is the salutatorian.

The program booklet lists as part of the ceremony an address from Principal Scott Viness followed by the presentation of the valedictorian and salutatorian honors. Immediately following that presentation is the salutatorian’s address; no valedictorian’s address is listed anywhere in the booklet.

Zimmerman had been following ; most of those arrested were students. Zimmerman’s original punishment, which he says was also levied against others involved in vandalism of the school and nearby roadway, included 10 days of out-of-school suspension followed by long-term suspension for the rest of the year, the latter of which is carried out by . But that punishment package allowed those involved to graduate from East Paulding and participate at graduation ceremonies.

Zimmerman and his family appealed the punishment, and the school board at its April 10 meeting answered the appeal by levying against him an additional stipulation— . But via a preliminary injunction, giving Zimmerman the green light to walk at graduation.

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Del Simmons May 24, 2012 at 10:46 PM
The young man had the grades to warrant the honor. That is something he had worked long and hard on long before this current controversy started. I'm glad to see him recognized for this amazing academic achievement, even if he isn't given a chance to address the student body because of the recent troubles.
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 03:15 AM
The board is still trying to control this situation, as the judge ruled against them, its time they act mature and quit trying to hurt this young man and his family, He earned it for the grades and that didn't just happen in the last year, you earn that honor by the GPA, you start receiving Freshman year. I don't know this family personally, and I don't know any BOE members personally but after reading everything involving this story, I believe the BOE is wanting to show they still have the last ruling, and its their way of back talking the judge and all that's involved, I feel like I can hear them say, na-na-na-na-na.......Good Luck Mr. Zimmerman, and I'm glad GT is not worried about you attending their school in the fall.
Kim May 25, 2012 at 11:50 AM
I think it is great he made great grades all during school and feel he should be recognized as such but he should be held by the same rules all the others that were caught Re being held by. Just because you have not been in any prior infractions, or had excellent grades should it mean you simply skip a punishment. What on earth would that teach him or future classes to come??? Adults in criminal cases have to face the due process of what is handed down to them with the court of law & equally receive appelas so if the appeal was heard & set down then I feel he as well as the others need to abide by them. At least he gets to walk. That would be like saying someone who stole, robbed or murdered someone but never had a blemish before that should have special consideration for their crimes which is wrong. There will always be a first time but with no punishment there will certainly be a second, third etc.
Del Simmons May 25, 2012 at 11:59 AM
I'm sorry, Kim, but you simply have the facts of this case wrong. Mr. Zimmerman was given MORE punishment than the other students, simply because he dared to speak publicly about the case. Nobody here has argued he should be given less punishment, only that he should be given the same punishment as all the other students. The ruling the judge made provided an injunction against the Board because they heaped additional punishment onto this one young man simply because he embarrassed them by formally appealing to the Board and by speaking to the news media. All the board had to do was reject his request for review and leave it at that, but instead they chose to punish him more than the others for speaking publicly and the judge decided that was likely a violation of his First Amendment rights. Make sense?
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM
I believe all 24 students did receive punishment, Zimmerman has not been able to return to school at all, He like all the other's must pay a 1,000 fine, and do something like 400 hours community service-Which I THINK is fine and dandy, we must remember some of the students went over board and sprayed buildings and a county truck, it has been proven that this young man only sprayed the road in front of the school with the words "seniors 2012", which has already faded to almost nothing, and like the students every year before him has sprayed. He has paid in the media, with friends and family, money, and now time. He is being held by the same rules as the others?? But the other's are NOT the top of the class, so yes, He has an extra priviledge taken away, and comparing him to a murder, robber and thief is no comparison at all, and considering He didn't step foot on the campus shows He does have some respect for the school and the property and showed restraint. I believe they all deserved punishment, the county says it cost them 7,500 to clean up, and the fines add up to 24, 000.00, the BOE wasn't even going to let him attend graduation, and as I have said before, graduation is more for the family that has supported the students for 13 years of their lives and to take it away is punishing the entire famlies, communities, so finally the judge made the right decision, this is nothing short of the BOE making a stand. No one can take away the fact: He is top of this years class.
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Thanks Del for stating the facts--I don't understand why people still harp on punishment for Zimmerman, He got the same punishment plus ADD "features" of punishment, but yet people still want more? Good grief, everyone knows this is vengence and spite from the board, you don't have to be an einstein to sit back, read and observe how they are acting to know that. I hope this young man and the other's all go far in life and can come back to their class reunion in 10, 20 years and show what they have done with their lives, I sincerely hope they are all very successful, and this story of course will be w/them forever, and hopefully they will use this bump in the road of life to direct their path's in everything decision they make for their future's, it has made me realize how people want the same things for everyone, no matter what they all did, big or little, they should get the same punishment, this has been a pet peeve of mine since childhood, when I was small, one person speak out of turn in class, NO one could go out to recess, that was wrong when the ONE could have sit in the principal's office. I believe every person should stand on their on feet, take the results of their choices personally, I will never believe ALL people deserve SAME treatment for anything, any time, EVER! I will never agree that this ONE person should deserve more punishment than the others, because He spoke up to the media and etc, and that is what has happen. Free speech, folks! its okay.
Mojo413 May 25, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Melinda. Read the 55 page order issued by the Judge. Mr Zimmerman stated in his statement he DID enter the school property, he DID go on the school roof, he DID paint the street, then he DID re-enter the school property again. He says in his statement he was on the roof but did not have any paint. Then he says he re-entered the school property and saw all the damage. The 55 page order is attached to the first article on here about him being able to walk. Its over now. The punishments have been accessed. The judge ruled he can walk. The judge ruled its up to the principal if he wants to let Mr Zimmerman speak or not. I The whole mess needs to be old news. I certainly hope he and his lawyer are practicing their statement for the news reporters tomorrow. I suggest their statements be "No Comment". As for years to come. I hope under-class men have learned from these 24 to have respect for the law, have respect for authority, have respect for government property, have respect for private property and certainly elect a class president who will make good choices when faced with decisions to do otherwise.
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Okay, So I apologize for being wrong, I knew HE DID paint the street, do I think that's a big deal? and Do YOU KNOW that most or a good portion of the teachers knew that night was the night of the seniors painting the street? Okay, so He went on school property, but HE DIDN'T do the damage then to buildings, and a county truck, right?? This will be old news when the stories and headlines go away, and maybe after graduation this weekend. Why should Zimmerman get extra punishment for speaking out?? Explain that. Why does the BOE have to work out of spite toward students and they are ticked off at the judge ruling against them, and the principal is mad cause some of the students (NOT ZIMMERMAN) wrote hateful things against the vice-principal, (which I think is wrong, by the way)..so of course They are NOT going to let him speak. Freedom of speech is still well and alive, and I won't suggest to anyone to be quiet and not stand up, if He had not stood up, then He couldn't even walk- He spoke, the judge ruled against the BOE, which proves they are incompetent and are not all knowing, right?? You can run a board with bias feelings, why NOT ban teachers from teaching next year that knew the seniors were up to pranks that night?? Don't even suggest they didn't know, they always know, AND in past years, the seniors LEFT THEIR INITIALS on the road, why was that NOT ever investigated?? I hope you never made bad mistakes at 17/18..I know I did, and I have enough guts to say so!
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 01:28 PM
I find it amusing that some people want Zimmerman and his attorney to have no comment, but then turn around and comment here..ALL of us, EVERYONE has a right to free speech, if not, we couldn't voice our opinions here, let's not be one way for one and another way for another..that's just my point. They were all getting to walk before, EXCEPT Zimmerman but because He spoke out, they banned him and had to get a judge to rule, the BOE should have done the right thing, took the higher road, and just said, THEY ALL ARE WALKING, it was the BOE that caused the latest uproar, by giving Zimmerman more penalties. Would you like me to comment here, but the PATCH tell you that you can't, cause you speak out too loudly?, we need to respect one another's opinions, whether we agree or not. I believe THEY ALL needed to be punished, never said different, not once, but I will always say give the punishement that goes with the crime! I STILL BELIEVE painting seniors on the road in front of the school is okay, its been going on forever, and really would miss it in the spring of the year, its expected, but spraying buildings/trucks, and then on top of a roof, that's of course taking it too far, but then we always have those that don't know when to stop, don't we?? When all my friends starting turning 40, yea, I rolled their yards, left a toilet in the front yard among other things, SO WHAT? IT was fun, I never DEFACED their property with permanent stuff, OF COURSE It came back to me! Ha.
Mojo413 May 25, 2012 at 02:27 PM
If Mr Zimmerman only intended to paint the street that night, why would he say in a sworn statement he trespassed onto the school roof? Seems to me one theory might be he was scoping out targets to be tagged by others under his leadership. I feel its unfair to our school leadership these 24 came out that night to deface and vandalize our school, vehicles, street and neighbors private property. I know several members of the school board and the superintendent. I know them to be honorable people who love our community and have a heart to serve. Election qualifications are still open till noon today. I hope anyone who feels the current school leadership is incompetent will sign up to run for a seat on the School Board. I'm sure the best candidates will be seated.
Pam J May 25, 2012 at 03:06 PM
While it is a darn shame that these students are being punished, we do need to remember what they did. It's one thing to paint the street and parking lot, and maybe even the brick building. It's another to spray paint a truck and an entrance sign into a private subdivision. It became a "mob" mentality that got the best of them. If you want to participate in every great thing the senior year brings, don't do anything stupid. By the time you become a senior, your little brain should be working fairly well. You have to be accountable for your own actions, regardless of the accomplishments you have made in your life. I
Vince Hennigan May 25, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Look, how long does it take for those young men to GROW UP ? They knew what they were doing and they also knew somebody had to PAY and WORK HARD for the removal of their childish scrawls. NO, he shouldn't be allowed to speak at his graduation. The guy, regardless of his grades shows all the traits of a MORON. He's the type that will still be playing 'teenager' when he's forty.
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Look, I'm not here to change your minds, if you support the BOE, they may be Fine people, never said differently, EXCEPT- THEY WERE PENALIZING THIS YOUNG MAN FOR SPEAKING OUT, YOU CAN'T DENY THAT, AND THE JUDGE OVER RULED THEM!! You are putting alot of accusations on your theory, "scoping out targets to be tagged by others under his leadership", you are assuming this entire HORRIBLE PLOT was by this young man?? hhmmm..I think if I was 17 or 18, and because I'm a nosy person, I would have went to see what they were doing? I'm glad you are holier than thou and you would have not, good for you!! You and I don't know what any of the conversations were between these KIDS. AND I THINK THEY HAVE BEEN ALL HELD ACCOUNTABLE, who said they haven't?? I agree that they should be punished...but when there is cars/trucks stolen at local shopping areas in the county, and real robberies being carried out, I think we need to transfer some of this "go get em" attitude toward those kind of thugs, and YOU WILL NEVER MAKE ME BELIEVE THESE ARE THUGS, and they are paying for the $7,500 worth of damage by giving 24, 000 back, that's 1,000 per person, but it is what it is, that's okay, and they are giving enough hours for 2 1/2 months of community service, SO WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ALL STILL WANT?? I don't think his crime is any different than the other's, BUT HE GOT MORE PUNISHMENT FOR SPEAKING OUT!! THAT'S WRONG, AND AGAIN IT WAS OUT OF SPITE FROM THE BOE, honorable or not, people are not perfect!!
Del Simmons May 25, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I don't think it is a shame they are being punished. They deserved to be punished. I do think that 400 hours of community service was a bit excessive, but that is a choice that we elect the school board and other local officials to make. I respect that fact, even if I think they and the local prosecutor went overboard with the 400 ours of service requirement. The thing that bothers me, and evidently this judge agreed, was that additional punishment was heaped onto one student (banning from graduation) simply for exercising his first amendments rights to speak about the issue in public. That is un-American. I also know some people on the school board and consider them good people, but they screwed up when they added additional punishment on Mr. Zimmerman for no good reason. That is what the judge took issue with, and I agree with him. I just wish people in these comments would quit acting like everyone thinks these kids should have gotten off without any punishment. I have not seen anyone say that. I don't know why people keep coming in and pretending like that has happened. It makes me wonder if you're even bothering to read what people are typing. Sheez..
Del Simmons May 25, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Vince, thank God you're here to predict the future for us and tell us what these young men will be like when they are older. Without your insights we could all be mistaken when we try to prejudge people. I'm sure you never did anything stupid when you were a kid. Lighten up, Vince, and get a clue..
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I never attacked the individuals personally, I will stand by that I think they gave Zimmerman more punishment because He spoke out and if that's not true, then why did they give him more punishment?? Do you really think they like having a decision they made over ruled by a judge?? How long does it take anyone to grow up? Its funny how no one will say anything about the past years when the Seniors was spray painted on the road, and they would even put their initials, and they could go after them, cause they basically signed their work, I guess it was okay, cause some of it could have been done by the football players and EPHS went to state..Funny, how one year it is okay, and another year is AWFUL..I don't know how long it takes for those "young" men to grow up, since you are a male, maybe you can address that, I'm sure He is a moron and that's how He got into GT, you sound like a moron for writing things like that, good grief, and btw..They are the ones PAYING and they were the ones cleaning, even though I did some of the community out there too, but that was by choice. Is funny how ONE person out of 24 is given a different set of penalties, that's what I have referred too, and no one can really answer why, except HE TALKED!! 1ST ADMENDMENT, Freedom of Speech, that's the way it works!
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Pam, I don't think its a darn shame they are being punished, they NEED to be punished, but I don't think ONE should be punished MORE, because He got an attorney and they spoke out about the BOE decisions, that's when it gets murky...and then all of a sudden, He couldn't walk at graduation, so if He didn't have an attorney to go to the judge, He wouldn't not just talking, he wouldn't be walking either...I say, make the punishment for all the same, and quit making a difference, and yes some men never grow up--so if He is painting roadways in his 30's, 40's, it will be a terrible thing, we will know for sure He is one messed up moron, as one above politely put it. I'm glad all of us that are older never did one thing bad or NEVER made one bad decision. My husband put an outhouse in the principal's yard many years ago in Dallas Georgia, He was a good kid, beta kid, and etc...I don't recall him EVER doing that again, and we have been married for 40 years!! I still chuckle at the thought..oh well, there is pranks, and then there is pranks! Next time, those teachers hear the kids whispering and planning something, maybe they will talk too, huh..I have friends that have friends that teach there, and the teachers that have been there awhile, know good and well when and what, don't be so shallow that you think they don't..OMG..it says Seniors 2012 on the road, WHAT WILL WE DO?? PLEASE...I can't even drive down the road, it blinds me, its terrible. GET A LIFE FOLKS!
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 05:14 PM
AND I'm never convinced the best candidates get elected, because its usually FAMILY and FRIENDS that vote them in, no matter what!! If you know them so well, tell them to treat everyone the same, would ya'? That's really all I've ever said, but you want to make it all terrible and bad, and blah, blah, I WILL REPEAT AGAIN: THEY SHOULD BE PUNISHED, THEY WERE, THEY SHOULD PAY FOR DAMAGES, THEY ARE..BUT ONE (1) SHOULD NOT GET MORE PENALTIES CAUSE HE SPOKE OUT, What is wrong with me having that opinion? I don't agree with the BOE or WHOEVER made the decision, so its not okay that I don't agree, says who?? You?? I don't agree with you, and there you go! But, I'm not trying to change your mind, never have...I just stated mine. Have a great weekend and remember the reason for the Holiday everyone! :)
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Del, THANK YOU...Why do these people want to go crazy on me, pretending I never said that they shouldn't be punished, because I believe they should and from all that I've read ,they have.... Folks, they were punished, surely more than Del can see that I have wrote that many, many times over--I ASK ONCE, I WILL ASK AGAIN, WHAT ELSE IS IT THAT YOU FOLKS WANT FROM THESE KIDS AND ESPECIALLY ZIMMERMAN?? I'm wondering are some of you from the BOE is that why you keep repeating all the legal ratifications and junk?? Wanting me to go read all 55 pages of whatever, what is it you want them to do w/Zimmerman? Put him in solitary confinment, would that please you all? Common Sense goes a long way and sadly most people don't have a clue what that is anymore. THANK YOU DEL for really reading my post, I appreciate it very much! My favorite saying is this and I find it very appropriate to some: CAN'T FIX STUPID!
Dave Hoffman May 25, 2012 at 08:06 PM
Vince, your statement just made us all aware of who the real moron is. Jake is my nephew and he is more of a man than you will ever be. Sounds like you are the forty-something teenager to me. I'll even go as far as saying he is a better man than myself. I did much worse as a teenager and I now operate my families business making more than your little mind could possibly fathom. I'm sorry that I had to bring it to your level but don't judge my nephew. We all know that what he did was wrong. More importantly, I think he knows that what happened was wrong so enjoy your life of hate and misery. Moron!!!
Melinda Paris May 25, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Thank you for the encouraging comments to these students, I know NONE of them personally, but when GOOD kids do dumb things, or make the wrong decision, and it happens from time to time, and get caught as in this case, they are making restitution to the community, school, friends and most of all their families, and then they have to answer to a higher power just like everyone else. None of us are perfect, but I have to think kids that make the higest grades in a large class of peers is a very smart person, but obviously had a weak moment. The "senior" in the road letters have happened as long as the school as been there, it was wrong, but He is making the wrong, right. All of these kids will take this lesson and learn from it I'm sure as long as they live, they don't need holier than thou, hateful, smart-alec, name-calling ADULTS calling them out over and over and over, what good is that? I'm calling out the BOE and I still will do so, I was taught TWO WRONGS don't make a right, and if you think I'm taking you serious Mr. MOJO then you are wrong, you never answer a question, you just spew out your junk, telling ME to read this, or read that. I have more common sense in my little toe apparently, and if you don't think its spite from the BOE that this young man wasn't getting to WALK and the other's were, then again I ASK YOU, WHY WAS that decision made immediately after He spoke out? AND only with the judge's over rule is He allowed to walk. Honorable people? REALLY?
Mojo413 May 26, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Melinda I hope we can agree to not agree. You feel the BOE is incompetent and dis-honorable. I feel they are very qualified, honest and extremely honorable. You seem to be offended I mentioned or suggested you read the Judges order. It includes many sworn statements from Mr Zimmerman, Cliff Cole, Kim Kurl and the Principal. To me I found the reading to be fascinating. The statements include much information not reported in the news such as Mr. Zimmerman's path and actions that night plus reports of now similar situations have been handled by the BOE for many past years. Part of my continued respect is due to the way they have handled the Judges order. I read nothing but BOE respect for his order. As too all your questions, you and I see each question, situation or report totally different. I will continue to support the BOE. My only connection to the BOE, teachers, administration or employees is 3 adult children who came up through the local system, 4) grandchildren currently in the local system and 3) grandchildren who will enter the local system in just a few years. I look forward to seeing my friends at the BOE in the community and hope they realize I support them.
Melinda Paris May 26, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Mojo, I have always respected other's opinions, and I never said, I didn't support the BOE, but on this one, they missed the mark totally, and it shows, as they didn't have to stop this young man from walking because He spoke out, that's what they did, and that is what I was opposed too and have repeatedly said that. They chose to wait for a judge to over rule and make the right decision for them, that was not necessary, as they could have really shined and made the right decision FIRST. No one should keep a student that has worked hard for YEARS to NOT walk with their class because they spoke out, as the other 23 students were walking, and apparently the reason was He spoke out along with his family, if that' not true, I'm sure they would have given another reason, or YOU would have told me and other's what the reason was, but that seems to NEVER get addressed as to why--so without explanation, IT then becomes obvious. I hope you never have another opinion from them, because they way you have supported them on this one will make you look really bad if you don't agree with them, and honestly everyone is NOT going to agree with everything all the time, that's human nature. I will NEVER support the decision they made to TRY to make this young man sit at home, while his peers walk across a stage to receive a diploma that took 12 plus years to receive, how much more should He be penalized because of him speaking out? Never received answer on that either.
Melinda Paris May 26, 2012 at 04:36 PM
AND..You have continued respect for them the way they handled the judges ruling? I'm asking out of ignorance, did they have a choice?? I really don't know, the reason you have continued respect is the same reason I lost respect for them, cause they didn't have to stop the young man in the first place, and its reall A common sense decision. You have 24 students that made a mistake, they are all paying and etc, ONE speaks out, so "BINGO", that makes the board mad because He exercised his freedom of speech, so what did they do?? "well just show him", that's the way I took it, and apparently many other's did too..If you think that was well thought out, and not a SPITEFUL thing, then I respect your opinion, but I have some swamp land that I would like to sell, it will be great for you!! How does ONE believe they were NOT letting him walk because they cared? They are compassionate?? uh...its for the good of Paulding County? I've ask every question in my mind, trying to reason why they would not allow ONE out of 24 to walk?? I can't fathom why, except they are MAD, and were going to teach him a lesson? and I recall you even saying maybe this young man and his attorney learn to NOT comment, what's up with not commenting on something incorrect? You have spoke on here, no one has tried to shut you down, so why do you and the BOE think He shouldn't have a voice?? Isn't that alittle one sided and short sighted? I'm done trying to explain over and over why it was a wrong decision TO ME!
Melinda Paris May 26, 2012 at 04:44 PM
AND I like you will support, encourage the BOE when they are on target, but as elected officials, they have to hear when they are wrong too..and maybe they should listen to their people out here, and cases wouldn't have to go to courts and let judges make the decisions, just because a person is on a board in a church, corporation, or in this case school doesn't make them always right. We also have the right to dis agree or agree without backlash, and I wasn't offended by you suggesting I read anything, and by what you told me, I missed very little, He (Zimmerman) is still just guilty of painting Seniors 2012 on the road, it means nothing to me, that He climbed on top of the roof to see what the others were doing, and as I said before I would have went and looked too, as I'm a curious person, since when is looking wrong, big stinking deal. Again, I admitted as a teenager I made wrong decisions and lived through them, and my husband was an intelligent person, but still did stupid things like putting quhe outhouse on the principals' yard, I have the guts to admit and confess to all of that, but some on here, just carry on about this young man on and on, like they are above all pranks, mistakes, bad decisions, and until people quit bashing and start confessing their sins when they were young, then who takes any of you serious, again I suggest praying for all our young people, I wouldn't go back to that age for nothing! I'm done, its over and glad they will all be moving on!!
kay_bear52 May 28, 2012 at 09:37 PM
all I have to say is I am so glad graduation is over. I was over joyed and cheered to the top of my lungs when Jake was awared his status and when he got his diploma. He is a fine young man and I am proud that he stood up against the BOE. It's about darn time someone did. Now I am 100% thankful that I NEVER have to deal with this counties BOE again. Way to go Jake! We for one are proud of you

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