-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
McGehee High School, southeast of Little Rock, Arkansas, would not let Kymberly Wimberly, 18 and black, be valedictorian even though she had the highest GPA. A white student was named as co-valedictorian even though the white student had a lower GPA. Wimberly’s mother, who works at the school as its certified media specialist, heard school personnel express concern that her daughter’s status as valedictorian might cause a “big mess.”
Unforeseen by school officials, the “big mess” now includes a complaint filed by Wimberly in United States District Court .
Wimberly took Honors and Advanced Placement classes during her senior year in order to raise her almost straight “A” GPA that had been lowered by a lone “B.” When all the seniors’ grades were tabulated, Wimberly had the highest GPA of her class. The next day the principal decided to name a white student, with a lower GPA, as co-valedictorian.
The complaint claims a pattern of racial prejudice at the school. African-American students were discouraged, by school administrators and personnel, from taking the Honors and Advanced Placement classes while Caucasian student had to almost opt out of being assigned to the honor’s track.
The complaint alleges deprivation of rights secured by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as violations of the Constitution of the State of Arkansas and various statutory laws. Wimberly is seeking injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief.
At a time when many school districts are facing financial shortfalls, it is refreshing to find a school district willing to risk taxpayer funds on attorney’s fees and jury awards.