District 3: Valedictorian lawsuit without merit
by Staff Reports | August 4, 2017 6:51 am
Last Updated: August 1, 2017 at 2:41 pm
Clarendon School District 3 officials sued in Clarendon County common pleas court last month over an issue with the Class of 2016’s rightful valedictorian have denied any wrongdoing in the incident.
In an answer filed July 21, Clarendon School District 3 attorneys White and Story of Columbia deny all claims by plaintiff Flury Wilson that she was denied her rightful place as sole valedictorian for the Class of 2016 at East Clarendon High School.
Wilson, who graduated June 3, 2016, filed the suit in June against the school board, Superintendent Connie Dennis and East Clarendon High School Principal Jason Cook and Guidance Counselor Sharon DuRant, accusing the defendants of wrongfully labeling Wilson as the co-valedictorian of her graduating class and marking her placement as No. 2 in the class on her permanent records.
Current paperwork filed in the case, however, lists only Clarendon School District 3 as a whole as the defendant.
Wilson alleged that she held the No. 1 ranking in her class prior to May 26, 2017, “based on her academic performance and accomplishment of earning the top grades for the respective school year and grading periods.”
However, Wilson was informed May 27, 2016, that her class ranking had changed from No. 1 to No. 2, “without any proper justification given,” her suit alleges.
In their response, district officials denied Wilson’s account i its entirety, admitting only that she was listed as valedictorian in the Class Day program on May 26, 2016, and that she received notice the next day that she was ranked No. 2 and that she and another student would serve as joint valedictorians at the Commencement Ceremony on June 3.
Wilson likewise alleged that “the defendants allowed the improper grade submissions of a known student, specifically the student now holding the No. 1 ranking, which altered the ranking of the plaintiff all in a grossly negligent manner and intentionally and conscious failure to safe guard the academic achievement and class ranking of the plaintiff.”
Again, the district denied such actions, saying that “facts were brought to the attention of district officials that required additional calculation of student grades.” The district also denied Wilson’s assertion that she and her family asked for an investigation into a “possibly illegal” grade change and adjustment of class ranking.
“The District admits only that the plaintiff contested the class ranking,” the reply from the district reads.
Wilson’s suit further alleges that “grossly negligent record keeping” on the part of the high school led to the errors.
“Even after the 2015-16 school year ended, the plaintiffs sought proper resolution from the defendants as to the plaintiff’s class ranking and sought to restore her to the correct and proper position she has earned based on her academic record,” reads the complaint against the district. “As a result, the plaintiffs have been damaged due to the grossly negligent actions of the defendants, and due to the intentional and conscious failure to investigate the plaintiff’s class ranking and the acceptance of the submission of grades by another student after the deadline to submit grades for the purpose of GPA calculations and due to the defendants failure to return her to the No. 1 position she rightfully earned over the course of her grading periods in her high school academic career.”
The district, however, took umbrage with such language, saying that it admitted only “that the plaintiffs continued to request the district alter Wilson’s transcript after the 2015-16 school year.”
The student who held the co-valedictorian ranking with Wilson is not named in the suit, in which the plaintiff is represented by Sumter attorney Garryl Deas.
Andrea White, the attorney retained to represent the defendants in this case, said that “this is an unfortunate situation, but the district believes it acted properly.”
“The district believes it handled the situation involving the determination of the valedictorian for the 2015-16 school year properly and that no district policy or state law or Department of Education regulations were violated,” she said.