A school in Mississippi is being sued after administrators forced a black student to share the title of valedictorian with a white student who received lower grades.
This past school year marked a first for Cleveland High School. For the first time in school history, a black student earned valedictorian honors, and that apparently bothered administrators so much that they named a white student as “co-valedictorian” and tried to humiliate the real valedictorian during the graduation ceremony.
Jasmine Shepard worked damn hard to achieve the educational accolade. It’s especially impressive considering Cleveland High School was forced to desegregate by a federal judge just last year, 50 years after the Supreme Court ruled that segregation is unconstitutional.
How this school was able to ignore the ruling for this long is a mystery, but it was allowed to discriminate against black students for decades without consequence, and it is still discriminating.
The day before the graduation ceremony, Jasmine learned that the school had named a second student the co-valedictorian. The second student is white and was given the honor despite having a lower grade point average. The honor of valedictorian is usually reserved to the student who has the highest GPA in the class.
In addition, the school forced Jasmine to deliver her speech after the white student and was going to humiliate her further by forcing her to walk behind the white student as well. You know, making it look like Jasmine was only second-best.
Fed up with the school’s actions, Jasmine protested and walked first. Then her mother slapped the school with a lawsuit that should make them think twice before pulling racist stunts again. The lawsuit states:
Prior to 2016, all of Cleveland High School’s valedictorians were white. As a result of the school official’s unprecedented action of making an African-American student share the valedictorian award with a white student, the defendants discriminated against.”
“A child, when they earn honors, they are entitled to receive them,” Jasmine’s mother Sherry told the Washington Post. “There is no inclusion in the Cleveland school district. When the district wants something, they just take it.”
School officials claim that both students had “identical grade point averages” and that there was nothing racist about their decision at all. But Sherry and Jasmine both know the girl who was named “co-valedictorian” and they know for a fact that she had a lower GPA.
If Cleveland High School officials wrongly gave valedictorian honors to a white student just because they did not want a black student to represent their school, there should be consequences. Simple arithmetic can be employed to find the truth here unless school officials flawlessly falsified the records to cover their asses.
But one way or the other, the truth will come out. And Cleveland High school officials should prepare to pay the price.
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