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MS School District Sued For Forcing Black Student to Share Valedictorian Honor With White Student That Had Lower GPA

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: CNN

The mother of a black teen who recently graduated from a Mississippi high school is suing the school district for forcing her daughter to share last year’s valedictorian honors with a white student whose GPA was lower.

According to CNN, Sherry Shepard, the mother of Jasmine Shepard (pictured), filed a federal lawsuit against Mississippi’s Cleveland Public School District for not allowing her daughter to be the sole winner of Cleveland High School’s 2015-16 valedictorian honors.

Sherry Shepard also claims her daughter was the first black valedictorian at Cleveland High School in 110 years. The honor of valedictorian has always been won by a single student in the whole graduating class and that has been the case at Cleveland High for over a century.

However, this year, school administrators obviously could not stomach the fact that a black female student racked up the highest amount of academic achievement this year. For this reason, Jasmine had to share the honor with another white student despite the fact that they did not earn the highest GPA of the graduating class.

The Cleveland, Mississippi public school district is not a stranger to making negative headlines for reasons that are unsavory. CNN also reported Monday (July 3rd) that the school district settled a racial segregation lawsuit that had previously dragged on for 52 years.

The Shepard family’s federal lawsuit cites what the plaintiff alleges is a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. This constitutional amendment clearly articulates that “no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property.”

CNN was able to obtain copies of the legal documents related to this case. The Shepard family’s lawsuit partially reads as follows:

“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 [Jasmine Shepard] in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Plaintiff has suffered humiliation, loss of self-esteem, loss of opportunities, mental anguish, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other damages to be shown at the trial of this matter.”

Jasmine Shepard said in a recent Facebook posting that she and members of her family have experienced race-based harassment, torment, and pure hatred after the lawsuit was filed. The Shepard family is seeking an unspecified monetary amount in damages as a result of this ordeal.

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