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Mother of African-American student files lawsuit against former school after she was named 'co-valedictorian' alongside white student


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The mother of an African-American student has filed a lawsuit against her previous high school after she was named ‘co-valedictorian’, sharing the title with a white student.

Jasmine Shepard graduated from Cleveland High School in Mississippi, US in May 2016, and was awarded the honour alongside a white student. However, according to the lawsuit, the white student had a ‘lower GPA’ and therefore should not have been awarded the title alongside Jasmine.

Until Jasmine’s award, the school had never had an African-American valedictorian in its 110-year history, and according to the lawsuit the sharing of the awards made “the defendants feel discriminated against.”

The lawsuit filed asks for unspecified damages and for Jasmine to be named “sole valedictorian” of her class. Jasmine’s mother has not held back when talking about the school district: “There is no inclusion in the Cleveland school district. When the district wants something, they just take it.”

Jasmine’s mother currently runs a Facebook page in support of her daughter, 'Justice for Jasmine' and claims that she was forced to address her class after the white valedictorian during the ceremony. She also claims that she was due to walk behind her, but objected beforehand.

In opposition, the Cleveland School District’s attorney has labelled the lawsuit as “frivolous” and claims that the students “had identical grade point averages” and that the “district’s policy is racially neutral and fair to students.” However, only last year a judge ruled that the district had failed to integrate its schools 50 years after being originally told to do.

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