Monday, July 25, 2011

School Refused to Let Black Student Be Valedictorian

Kymberly Wimberly (not pictured), who attended McGehee High School in McGehee, Ark. has filed a discrimination lawsuit in federal court claiming the school refused to let her be the sole valedictorian of the Class of 2011 because she's black. The 18-year-old, who had the highest GPA and and succeeded in Honors and Advanced Placement classes, says the guidance counsellor informed her she would, in fact, be valedictorian, but the school "treated two white students as "heir[s] apparent to the valedictorian and salutatorian spots." According to the complaint, Kymberly's mother, who is the school's "certified media specialist", said she heard "in the copy room that same day, other school personnel expressed concern that Wimberly's status as valedictorian might cause a 'big mess.'" So, she confronted principal Darrell Thompson, who told her "that he decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian," although the white student had a lower GPA. When Kymberly's mother tried to protest the decision to the school board meeting, authorities would not allow her speak, because she allegedly filled out a "public comments" instead of a "public participation". Then, the superintendent told her she could not appeal his decision until the June 28 school board meeting. (The graduation was May 13.) Kymberly (who has a child) says the school's refusal to let her be sole valedictorian was part of a pattern of discrimination against black students. Kymberly says McGehee discourages black students from taking honors and advanced placement classes, "by telling them, among other things, that the work was too hard." (The last black valedictorian in the entire school district was in 1989.) The lawsuit seeks punitive damages and an injunction declaring her the sole valedictorian.

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