Kymberly Wimberly, an African-American teen in Arkansas, is suing her former school, McGehee Secondary School, because she claims she was stripped of the valedictorian title because of her race.
According to Wimberly, after she found out she’d be the school’s valedictorian, she overheard school officials saying “that Wimberly’s status as valedictorian might cause a ‘big mess.’” Soon after, a white student with a lower GPA than Wimberly’s was named co-valedictorian.
Wimberly’s lawsuit claims the school “did not support African-American students, and did not want to see Wimberly, an African-American young mother as valedictorian.”
The complaint continues: “But for Wimberly’s race, defendants would not have selected a student with a lower G.P.A. than Wimberly to also be a valedictorian.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the principal told Wimberly’s mother that school officials picked another valedictorian “after reading something in the handbook.” However, as Jezebel pointed out, according to the handbook the only requirements to be named valedictorian are that a student “must be an honor graduate,” and “must be continuously enrolled at McGehee Secondary School the last two semester without transferring during this time to be considered in class ranking or eligible for valedictorian or salutatorian status.” Wimberly meets both requirements.
According to Courthouse News, Wimberly is seeking punitive damages for constitutional violations, and an injunction declaring her sole valedictorian of the school’s Class of 2011.