AP File Photo - Katie Washington, Notre Dame's 1st Black Valedictorian
Just outside of Little Rock Arkansas, 18 year old Kimberly Wimberly, a young female African American mother was barred from being Valedictorian at her High School. Kimberly and her mother have filed suit against the school for allegedly not allowing her to become valedictorian because of her race.
Wimberly, whose high school career is replete with honors and advanced placement classes, received only one B during her four years at McGehee. She had the highest GPA in her class.
According to the lawsuit, Wimberly says she was pushed aside and told she would be co-valedictorian with another white student who had a lower G.P.A. “School administrators and personnel treated two other white students as heir[s] apparent to the valedictorian and salutatorian spots,” she says in the suit, according to the Courthouse News Service.
Wimberly’s mother works for the school as a media specialist. In the federal discrimination complaint she says that on the same day it was announced that her daughter would only be co-valedictorian, she overheard “in the copy room…other school personnel express[ing] concern that Wimberly’s status as valedictorian might cause a ‘big mess.’”
When Bratton, Wimberly’s mother, tried to object to the school board, Superintendent Thomas Gathen, who is a defendant in the case, did not let her speak, alleging that Bratton had filled out the wrong form — filing ‘public comments’ instead of ‘public participation.’ He then informed her that his decision could only be challenged at the June 28th school board meeting, much later than the May 13th graduation date.
Wimberly argues that this incident is part of a steady pattern of discrimination against African-American students at McGehee, saying that the school dissuades students from taking upper level classes “by telling them, among other things, that the work [is] too hard.” The school is 46 percent African-American with a Caucasian majority.
The federal court claim reads: “defendants did not support African-American students, and did not want to see Wimberly, an African-American young mother as valedictorian.”
Wimberly is looking for damages for the school’s alleged unconstitutional action, as well as the official title as the one and only valedictorian of McGehee’s 2011 graduating class.
It’s crazy that things like this still go on in America. The yound lady had a child while in high school and still maintained her GPA. She did what she was supposed to do. There was no cause to treat her so unjust and unfair. This could not be a isolated incident that occured only in the education institution of McGee.
I’m wondering if many parts of the South still carry their old ways and refuse to stay in alignment with the times? I’m sure her having a baby was really the real problem. But being Valedictorian has nothing to do with moral character. It’s solely based upon GPA. To have these type of thoughts one would have to be ignorant at this point.. Knowing what you know about the South, does this story surprise you?