A Mississippi mother is taking legal action against her daughter’s school district after her child was forced to share her high school’s valedictorian title with a White student who earned a lower GPA, reports the New York Daily News.
According to the outlet, 18-year-old Jasmine Shepherd, who is the first Black student in Cleveland High School’s history to be given the valedictorian honor, was named “co-valedictorian” with a White student.
“Prior to 2016, all of Cleveland High School’s valedictorians were White,” read the lawsuit. “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.”
Shepherd’s mother said her daughter was forced to deliver her valedictorian speech after the White student during the graduation ceremony, reports the outlet.
A lawyer for the Cleveland School District says that the two students had the same exact GPA, though others involved have said her GPA was lower than the Black student’s GPA.
According to the Washington Post, Shepherd is suing the school district for monetary damages and is asking that her daughter be named the “sole valedictorian.”
“A child, when they earn honors, they are entitled to receive them,” Sherry Shepard said. “There is no inclusion in the Cleveland school district. When the district wants something, they just take it.”,” said Shepherd, according to the outlet.
This isn’t the first time that the Cleveland, Mississippi school district has been in the midst racial conflict. The Daily News reports that the school district was slapped with a lawsuit for its failure to desegregate its school after being told to do so fifty years ago. The district initially tried to contest the judge’s order, but they eventually ended up complying.