Posted on May 2, 2019

White High School Student Named Salutatorian over Black Student with Better Grades, Federal Lawsuit Claims

Justin Wm. Moyer, Washignton Post, May 1, 2019

An African American woman filed a federal lawsuit against a recently desegregated Mississippi school district last week, claiming a white student was named salutatorian of their graduating class despite having a lower grade-point average.

The lawsuit comes weeks before a trial involving the same school district in which a black student alleges she was named “co-valedictorian” with a white student, even though the white student had a lower grade-point average.


In May, school officials told Olecia James, a black senior at the new high school, that her weighted grade-point average would be lowered after she lost “quality points” earned in courses taken at the historically black school, according to a federal suit filed in Mississippi’s Northern District.

The suit alleges the points, awarded for more challenging classes, were taken from students at the historically black school, but not from students at the historically white school.

After James objected, the suit alleges, officials said her “quality point average” of 4.41 would be restored, but still named a white male student with a 4.34 average salutatorian.

James “suffered loss of scholarships” and “humiliation” as a result, according to the suit, which seeks monetary damages, a change in school policy and a declaration that James is salutatorian.