Black Teenage Mother Not Permitted to Be Sole Valedictorian

You would think a school would be thrilled if a black teenage mother got the highest GPA, that they’d have tears of pride streaming down their faces as they watched her get the prize– despite all that was stacked against her. But apparently not.

An African-American teenage mother, Kymberly Wimberley, earned the highest GPA in her class at Arkansas’ McGehee School District.

But a lawsuit filed by the student this month alleges that her district discriminated against her and made her share the honor with a white student – because she was a black teenage mother.

Sign the petition in protest.

5 thoughts on “Black Teenage Mother Not Permitted to Be Sole Valedictorian

  1. Mr. and Mrs. Wimberly named their daughter Kymberly? Thereby hangs a tortious infliction of emotional distress lawsuit, for some enterprising plaintiff’s lawyer. I’m just saying.

    Back to the subject at hand, based purely on my anecdotal recollection, there seems to be a tendency on this site to accept allegations in lawsuits (even when just at the complaint stage!) as true when writing about them. The linked petition does the same thing; the way it’s worded, why would anyone without some independent familiarity with the facts put their name to it?

  2. Apparently the school is defending itself on the grounds that valedictorian status at the school is based on a combination of GPA and difficulty of classes, and that the second place person in GPA made up the gap with the latter standard. But there is info on Wimberley’s side (I find the overheard conversation especially troubling) that counters this.

    I also find the school’s defense puzzling for a different reason. It seems they have no legitimate way to quantify the ‘difficulty of classes’ part of the equation. The standard way to do this, as I understand it, is to have classes weighted in the GPA configuration, and then use the adjusted GPA to decide the valedictorian. If you don’t have that kind of system (and I see no suggestion that they do), then one wonders how in the world they’re accounting for class difficulty.

  3. DH – That’s just further recitation of the allegations. I’m always amazed how frequently I hear two things: a) that lawyers are untrustworthy sophists and b) credulous recitation of lawyers’ allegations. We just don’t have enough information here.

    Matt, this sort of issue comes up all the time – and in many contexts where race is not an issue (e.g., where the students involved and the decision-makers are all the same race). Suppose you’ve got what you think is a straightforward rule. Calculate GPAs, and give a 0.5 bump for AP classes. Then you’ve got two students, both of whom have straight As. Both of them took the same number of AP classes – the maximum allotted. Both then took a number of non-AP classes. One of the students, however, took one more non-AP class (and so one more class overall) than the other. The student who took fewer classes would be the valedictorian by the straight calculation – but the decision-makers might (reasonably, I think) decide that is unfair – and might therefore decide to award both.

    I’m not saying that happened here. I am saying that things like that happen relatively frequently (see home-schooling related issues, AP v. non-AP, rural school districts) and that it would therefore be good to learn what actually happened (or at least have anything to go on other than the word of a professional sophist) before leaping to conclusions.

  4. Not sure why the school would do something like that… heck I don’t know what to expect. Just recently I saw a prank that a highschool Principle pulled by having the kids kiss their parents while the kids were blind-folded infront of other students… not sure what’s going on these days.

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