Posted on July 28, 2011

High School Student Alleges Racial Bias in Valedictorian Choice

Suzi Parker, Reuters, July 27, 2011

A black high school valedictorian says in a federal lawsuit that her school discriminated against her when they made her share the stage with a white “co-valedictorian” who had a lower grade point average.

School officials told Kymberly Wimberly, 18, that it was because the other student had more class credits, according to the lawsuit. School officials have said publicly that the valedictorians are chosen based on both grades and difficulty of course work.

Wimberly, who said she was the first black valedictorian in more than 20 years at the tiny high school, believes it was racial.


A day after learning that she would be the valedictorian of the 2011 graduating class at McGehee Secondary School, she was told that she would have to share the honor with a white, female student.

Both students gave valedictory speeches at the May 13th graduation.

{snip} The lawsuit is asking for $75,000 in damages.

The superintendent is black. The principal is white. The lawsuit states the school board is primarily white.


Wimberly said she graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and took honors and advanced placement classes. She briefly left school during the fall semester of junior year after giving birth to her daughter, missing three weeks of class.


The white student had a lower GPA but more credits. But Wimberly said credits only come into play when two students tie with the same GPA.