Cleveland High School in Mississippi had a long history of only white valedictorians, 109 years to be exact. That streak however, was broken in 2016 by a senior African American student named Jasmine Sheppard.
Although she was awarded the honor with the results of her hard work, it would not be enough. Jasmine’s GPA ended up being identical with that of another student the school claims, who happened to be a white girl.
This meant she would have to share the honor, being named Co-Valedictorian. Apparently, this was a form of discrimination against Sheppard, according to her and her family, and since the other student is white, they believe this was an injustice and she should be the sole Valedictorian, despite having the same exact GPA.
The key word here is “sharing.” The Sheppard’s claim is that Jasmine is being forced to share the honor, as if the other student did not earn the honor. In fact, the Sheppard’s are accusing the school of changing the other student’s GPA in order for her to share the honor with Jasmine.
Jasmine’s mother Sherry believes the other student had a lower GPA and claims that “she knows the schedule and knows what each student takes, and has a good idea where the discrepancy lies.” They are now suing the school for monetary damages and demanding the white girl be stripped of her honor.
The entire lawsuit is yet another example of reverse racism, as with this case, if the co-valedictorian happened to also be African American, then there would be no lawsuit. It solely seeks out to punish the student purely on the basis of her skin color, which is white, and justifies the suit with a fact-less claim that the other students GPA was lower.
How could Sherry Sheppard possibly know what another student’s GPA is, and what would motivate the school make such a fraudulent decision? Where is the evidence?
Another interesting fact about the case is that the lawsuit is being filed now, in 2017, a full year after the Valedictorian honors were handed out. What caused the Sheppard’s to take so long in bringing legal action if they knew all along what was going on, as the mother claimed?
The attorney for the school district Jamie Jacks maintains that the GPA’s were identical and the school followed simple racially neutral policy in awarding co-valedictorians. Jacks and the school district plan to file a motion to dismiss the suit. Based on all of the evidence, it seems that any judge would easily throw this case out, unlike a case that happened in Texas.
The Sheppard suit also claims that as a result of not being named the sole valedictorian, that Sheppard 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.” Is she Kathy Griffin now?
What other possible damages could there be? The only way Jasmine Sheppard has a case, is if the school district lied about the GPA of the other student, and covered the whole thing up. Multiple people would have had to be involved in the cover up as well. That doesn’t seem even remotely possible.
The bottom line is that this seems like a big publicity stunt, not only vaulting Jasmine Sheppard into the spotlight, but also highlighting the racial history of valedictorians at Cleveland High School. Unfortunately for Jasmine, in doing all of this she is damaging the other student who is co-valedictorian.
One final piece of interesting information is that just recently a Judge ordered the same Cleveland school district to desegregate. This means that for roughly the past six decades the district was operating illegally by keeping the schools segregated and running a dual system for black and white residents who lived on opposite sides of town.
The decision, which came 62 years after Brown Vs. The Board of Education, took effect immediately when it was ruled in 2016. Overall, the system was deemed completely unconstitutional and it makes you wonder how it was left able to operate for so long without any changes.
It will be interesting to see what a judge finds in the Jasmine Sheppard case. Is it petty reverse racism, or did an entire group at the school stoop to such a level that they would forge or tweak a students academic records just to have a person with white skin represented as valedictorian?
With how messed up that entire town seems, only time will tell.