SLO High School principal censors student film, video

June 8, 2016

Paintbrushes by Cora


San Luis Obispo High School Principal Leslie O’Connor refuses to allow a film to be shown, despite over 400 signatures on a petition and over 2,250 views of the film on YouTube.

Every year, SLOHS graduating seniors have an opportunity to showcase their talents at the annual Senior Showcase, held at the PAC. Interspersed with announcements of academic achievements and scholarship awards, seniors play music, perform skits and dances, and otherwise leave the audience with a taste for their talents. The Senior Showcase, this year held on June 9 at 6 p.m., is open to everyone in the community.

This year, SLOHS Principal Leslie O’Connor decided to put his own design on the event by censoring one of the student’s submissions. CeCe Devaney, a high-achieving academic student who also managed to sweep both this year’s Black & Gold Track & Field Award and the 2016 Female Athlete of the Year award, submitted a raw and beautiful film about her experiences in high school.

Principal O’Connor told CeCe that he wouldn’t allow it in the showcase because it was “too provocative.” Fellow senior Summer Truschke started a petition requesting that CeCe’s film be included in the Showcase.


The petition, now closed with over 400 signatures – including some SLOHS teachers and staff –  was delivered to O’Connor’s office on Monday, June 6, requesting a response within 24 hours. At this time, O’Connor has not responded.

CeCe’s film artistically and poetically describes a high school experience that is easily relatable, while leaving the viewer with an uplifting message of the powers of choice and hope.

Guesses at what is “provocative” in the eyes of SLOHS administrators are numerous, including their reaction to a mention of loving both boys and girls.One SLOHS teacher wondered if O’Connor’s reaction to the film is in response to the mental health issues students face, and the school’s inability to effectively help students with mental health challenges.

Earlier this year, a SLOHS student committed suicide. The unnamed teacher wonders if O’Connor is trying to detract attention from the truth that teenagers – even those at his school – have problems that need to be dealt with.



CeCe can now add this censorship to her high school experience. It’s sad, but she will learn from this and it will become a teachable moment at some point in her life.

The Principal’s actions simply reinforces the mediocre approach to education today.


Transitions mental health outreach offered to present to SLO high and was turned down.

Transitions visited numerous county high schools with a young adult who experienced a lapse into severe mental illness as a teenager. He was able to talk about his experiences to the highschoolers.

SLO high principal told them they did not have that kind of problem at the high school and would not allow them to present.

Excuse me, but it is a fact that a certain number of young people will develop schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and anxiety. Most of them will have no idea what is happening to them and begin treating themselves with alcohol and illegal drugs.

How dare SLO deny this information to its students. As much as they want to be seen as the perfect high school. YOU DO HAVE students with mental health issues and some of them will be coming down with schizophrenia and bipolar. For shame.

Kaiser Bill

San Luis Senior High Principal Leslie O’Connor should change his name to Napoleon.

Leslie, remember the lyrics of the old Stonewall Jackson song that described Napoleon’s downfall.

“Little General Napoleon of France

Tried to conquer the world, but lost his pants

Met defeat known as Bonaparte’s retreat

And that’s when Napoleon met his Waterloo”

Don’t let this be your Waterloo Leslie. Don’t lose your pants. Let the girl show the video.


(Almost) as dumb as not letting Jared go to prom. Principal O Connor, you call this provocative? Seniors leaving the nest soon, do not need your protection. Under your watch they should have learned to be independent educated thinking adults who make good choices. Do you think any one of these seniors hasn’t seen everything imaginable on the Internet? More educators less regulators. I give you an F


More poor decision making by school administration. What is it with these folks? There seems to be a serious issue with critical thinking skills. Should there be some consequences for incredibly poor judgement.

My guess is that this video will go viral and get more views than it ever would have, so I guess could be considered a positive, but nonetheless the issue regarding critical thinking and judgement remains.


How did you reach the conclusion that not allowing the viewing of this film is a product of “serious issue with critical thinking skills”? It appears that your personal opinion differs from that of the principal. Nothing wrong with that.

But to imply your opinion is a product of critical thinking and his is not is laughable.

Josey Wales

I find this censoring of a student film by SLO High school Principal Leslie O’Connor to be both ridiculous and indefensible If you question that, PLEASE watch the film at the posted link in the original article.

As one who is familiar with the subject in the movie, CeCe Devaney, I can attest that she is a positive person and a great trajectory, so to have Principal O’Connor deny the film to be shown at the SLO HS ‘Senior Showcase’ purportedly because it is ‘provocative’ only means that he personally does not approve of the film. With all due respect, that is not a good enough reason to censure the film.

If you share my concerns, please contact the President of the San Luis Coastal Board of Trustees, Marilyn Rodgers at 805-528-4248 to express your concerns.

Our local school administrators are not right just because they have a position. This scandal, as well as the scandal involving the AGHS student denied the right to attend his prom because of his medical condition, should remind us all that, just because people are in positions of responsibility. that doesn’t mean they will, in fact, act responsibly.

Speak Truth to Power,



I just called Marilyn and she was not aware of this whole ordeal. She took my name and number to reach back out to me.

Thanks, Josey you gave me a number to call and I did so. This was a beautiful video and I think alot of folks could learn from it.

JB Bronson

Not everything expressed in this video is everyone’s high school experience, but much is. Others experience would be different in some ways and thankfully so.

Should be required viewing and understanding for high school teachers and administrators.


What a beautiful soul she is. She is articulate, well spoken, caring, thoughtful,loving and trying to figure out life.

You can deny her the right to show this film, but it does not stop kids from feeling in the ways she expressed. It is the children who can not put their thoughts to words, that one needs to worry about.

A divorce is tough on any child, throw in there the death of a family member and that makes things really crazy. All the while their brain is maturing, hormones are flowing, and all the crap of high school.

She is a gifted young lady and I think the school should allow this film to be viewed. It might help the adults figure out a bit better what is going on in the heads of our youth.

Death is part of life, and I understand they don’t want to get anywhere near talking about death. Talking about death won’t kill you, it is the not talking and holding it in that will.

This young lady has been through a lot and could very well inspire others to keep going. I found the film inspiring, insightful and the work of an artist.

I apologize to you for what the principal is choosing to do. I will show this to others because I think it is BEAUTIFUL, as beautiful as you are. Thanks for making this film, thanks for the courage it took, you are a beautiful soul.


The entire high school experience is provocative, life changing, and very influential…not just this film.

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