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Her Excessive Faculty Stated She Ranked Third in Her Class. So She Went to Court docket.


It’s not solely unheard-of for disputes over high spots in highschool graduating lessons to escalate to litigation. The competitors over such accolades might be an intense, even ruthless, zero-sum sport. And within the combat to be valedictorian, there may be extra at stake than simply bragging rights. In Texas, the highest-ranking highschool graduates can obtain free tuition for his or her first yr at in-state public establishments.

Ms. Sullivan and her mother and father have been impressed by a case final yr in Pecos, Texas, about 100 miles from Alpine, the place two college students claimed to be valedictorian amid confusion over a “glitch” within the college’s tabulations. One of many college students — with skilled authorized illustration — filed for a restraining order and sought an injunction to dam Pecos Excessive Faculty from naming its valedictorian.

After Ms. Sullivan couldn’t get a lawyer, her mother and father have been dissatisfied however keen to drop the matter. However she refused. She obtained recommendation and information from the household within the case in Pecos, utilizing the petition in that case as a information to start out writing her personal. Her mother and father — her father, a rancher; her mom, a forensic interviewer — learn it over and helped her tidy up the language.

“We aren’t even near being attorneys,” Ms. Sullivan stated.

In Alpine, a city of roughly 6,000 folks in Texas’s Large Bend Nation, some who know Ms. Sullivan stated they have been shocked she would take this on. There are different methods to spend one’s final summer time earlier than faculty. (She plans to attend the Faculty of Charleston in South Carolina and main in biophysics with the intention of going into drugs.) However she had all the time been severe about college and a bit steely in her resolve.

“She’s already going to varsity, she already has scholarships,” stated Teresa Todd, an area authorities lawyer who’s a longtime buddy of Ms. Sullivan’s mom and whose sons are shut in age to Ms. Sullivan. “She labored actually onerous for this, and I believe all children should know the place they fall within the pecking order.”

“Children have to point out their work,” Ms. Todd added. “Why doesn’t the varsity have to point out their work?”

She stated she provided some recommendation to Ms. Sullivan forward of her listening to: “Be herself. Be respectful. Don’t let the opposite facet get you off your sport.”



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