A Texas high school senior had the whole world ahead of her – she was just named class valedictorian and was headed to college on a one year scholarship.
However Destiny Brannon’s hopes for the future quickly came crashing down when DeSoto High School officials told her they miscalculated her final rankings and she was actually fourth in her class instead of first.
Despite graduating and delivering her valedictorian speech on May 31, her school alerted her about the mistake on June 12, a week after she attended freshman orientation for her university.
It turns out the school had calculated the rankings based on fall semester grades instead of spring.
Not only did she lose the title, she also lost her scholarship that Texas grants to solely public school valedictorians.
‘It’s embarrassing, because I got so much publicity from them on being valedictorian, only to be told that’s a mistake,’ Brannon said to the Dallas News.
Now her family is scrambling to find a way to cover the $25,134 yearly tuition.
Brannon and her mother – who works as secretary in Desoto High’s counselor’s office – said they believe it’s no coincidence she was stripped of her title.
They believe it could be retribution for Brannon’s poignant valedictorian speech in which she criticized the school’s value of athletics over academics and teachers.
‘This school year has been a troubling one for me and the DeSoto ISD school system. We were challenged with subpar teachers who honestly weren’t there to benefit the needs of the DeSoto students,’ Brannon said in her speech.
‘Unfortunately DeSoto ISD is plagued with the idea that sports are somehow more important than education. I’m not quite sure how this ideology came about but I do hope for a change…’ she added.
However the school insists the miscalculation is independent from her speech.
‘Upon learning of the academic ranking concerns related to the appointment of the DeSoto High School valedictorian, the district immediately investigated the discrepancy. Through the investigation, the district found that officials at the high school based the appointment of the valedictorian on fall semester academic standings,’ DeSoto Independent School District’s communications director Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones said to Yahoo.
‘Recalibrated rankings are in no way a form of retribution or in response to Brannon’s address,’ she added.
Those responsible for the error have also been let go by DeSoto ISD.
Brannon and her family have started a GoFundMe page – and have already collected over $7,000 – to raise funds for the first year of college.
The school has apologized to Brannon’s family and the new valedictorian Brian Uzuegbunam’s family.
The district says it is ‘working with them to ensure the two students will still be able to pursue their intended pathways and that we, as a district, are working diligently to address deficiencies such as this and others that are detracting from our ability to offer quality educational experiences.’
SOURCE: MARLENE LENTHANG