Mississippi School Deprives Black Student Of Academic Honor In Fear Of 'White Flight'

2 years ago



CNN reports of a Mississippi school that chose to "name a white student the salutatorian of a recently integrated high school over a black student with better grades "to prevent white flight." The Typical Student team learned the details of a new federal lawsuit. 

The Original Story

According to an African American student Olecia James, she earned a higher cumulative quality point average. Things like student's grade point average and the points awarded for the rigor of the courses are taken into account when calculating the CQPA. Overall, Olecia's score was higher than that of the white salutatorian's. As alleged by the lawsuit, "the Cleveland School District officials named a white student with a lower average the first salutatorian of Cleveland Central High School's inaugural graduating class in 2018 - discriminating against her in violation of the 14th Amendment."

Lawsuit Against School

As quoted from the lawsuit filed in late April against the Cleveland School District: "The defendants, in light of the newly formed consolidated Cleveland Central High School and in their angst to prevent white flight, named W.M., a white male student, as salutatorian of the inaugural class of Cleveland Central High School in 2018, a position he had not earned, and in doing so, discriminated against Olecia James, a black female who had earned the position."

According to CNN, the 'suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and requests that James be publicly named the salutatorian of her graduating class.'


Key Points Of The Lawsuit

  • In May 2018, James found out that school officials decreased the quality points she earned from her courses at East Side High. As a result, her weighted grade point average had been lowered. 
  • James' grandmother and father met with school officials in an attempt to resolve the issue. In the meeting, the school principal "apologized for the discrepancies they had made" on James' transcripts. 
  • According to a new transcript presented at a May 14 school board meeting, James' cumulative weighted quality point average was 4.41. As a result, she became the first salutatorian of the newly integrated high school. 
  • Three days later, however, the white male student with a cumulative quality point average of 4.34, was announced the salutatorian by the school principal. 
  • James' family protested, but school officials provided them with another transcript listing James' quality point average as 4.33.
  • In the lawsuit, the question is posed about "the quality of education at the segregated black schools and the consequences of consolidation after the federal settlement."

Did The School Make Any Changes?

As told by CNN, the lawsuit claims, the district "failed to provide equitable educational opportunities" to students at East Side High and at D.M. Smith Middle School. Also, after the school consolidation, the district "took away and/or never assigned quality points" earned by students in the International Baccalaureate program at those schools. 


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