Black Student Forced To Share Valedictorian Title

Alain Brian
Juillet 4, 2017

Jasmine Shepard was the top of her class and had the highest GPA, but her MS high school forced her to "share" the title with students whose GPAs were lower.

Cleveland High School graduate Jasmine Shepard was awarded the title of "co-valedictorian", along with a white peer in May 2016.

Jasmine Shepard graduated from Cleveland High School in May 2016 and in the school's 110 year history, Jasmine became the first ever African American to receive the honor of valedictorian.

Cleveland High School has never had an African-American valedictorian.

"These children have been attending school with each other since middle school", said Sherry Shepard. "When the district wants something, they just take it".

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a federal judged ruling that the Cleveland School District had failed to desegregate its schools almost 50 years after being ordered to do so, according to The Washington Post.

'It's interesting to me that the Cleveland School District can tell the media that there was a "tie" when they have yet to tell me as Jasmine's parent, even when I asked!' she wrote.

The lawsuit suggests the school decided that Shephard and the white student share the valedictorian title, despite the white student having lower grades - a claim the school district denies.

Shepard's mother maintains a Facebook page for her daughter calling attention to what their side feels was an injustice.

Earlier this year, a federal judge demanded the school district desegregate. The schools were ordered to integrate a year ago. According to the district, both students had the same grades, therefore they had to share the valedictorian status. "Although no court order can right these wrongs, it is the duty of the district to ensure that not one more student suffers under this burden".

"The delay in desegregation has deprived generations of students of the constitutionally-guaranteed right of an integrated education", U.S. District Court Judge Debra M. Brown wrote previous year.

The student is angry with her school administration but does not want to see condemnation against the white student, whom she said is "the kindest-hearted, sweetest person".

The school tried to fight the decision but was forced to give up eventually.

Sherry is suing for unspecified monetary damages and for Jasmine to be declared 'sole valedictorian'.

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