A Mississippi mother is taking her daughter’s former school to court after she claims the local school board stripped her daughter the privilege of being the sole valedictorian, making her share the stage with another student with a lower grade point average.
Filed Tuesday, the complaint reveals that Cleveland High School has never had a Black valedictorian in its 110-year history, and Jasmine Shepard was the first to break this cycle.
However, as she made history Shepard was made to share the title of “co-valedictorian” with a white student who reportedly had a lower grade point average.
Her distinction also coincided with a federal ruling that the city of Cleveland , Mississippi failed to desegregate its schools when it was ordered to do so 50 years ago.
The ruling led Jasmine’s mother, Sherry Shepard, to believe that the district would never honor a black student as being academically superior to her white peers.
“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 J.S. in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the complaint writes. “Plaintiff has suffered humiliation, loss of self-esteem, embarrassment, loss of opportunities, mental anguish, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other damages to be shown at the trial of this matter.”
The plaintiffs are asking for compensation of unspecified monetary damages and for Jasmine to given the title of “Sole Valedictorian.”
Sherry has a Facebook page dedicated to the matter.