White Student Named Salutatorian over Black Student with Better Grades

by May 2, 2019

Linda Davidson/The Washington Post Cleveland High School in Cleveland, Miss.

An African American woman filed a federal lawsuit against a recently desegregated Mississippi school district last week, claiming a white student was named salutatorian of their graduating class despite having a lower grade-point average.

The lawsuit comes weeks before a trial involving the same school district in which a black student alleges she was named “co-valedictorian” with a white student, even though the white student had a lower grade-point average.

In 2017, Mississippi’s Cleveland School District desegregated after a federal judge found it was operating an illegal dual system for black and white children. A new school, Cleveland Central High, opened after two other schools — one on the historically white side of town, one on the historically black side of town — combined.

In May, school officials told Olecia James, a black senior at the new high school, that her weighted grade-point average would be lowered after she lost “quality points” earned in courses taken at the historically black school, according to a federal suit filed in Mississippi’s Northern District.


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