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


It’s not completely unheard-of for disputes over prime spots in highschool graduating courses 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 12 months at in-state public establishments.

Ms. Sullivan and her mother and father had been impressed by a case final 12 months in Pecos, Texas, about 100 miles from Alpine, the place two college students claimed to be valedictorian amid confusion over a “glitch” within the faculty’s tabulations. One of many college students — with skilled authorized illustration — filed for a restraining order and sought an injunction to dam Pecos Excessive College from naming its valedictorian.

After Ms. Sullivan couldn’t get a lawyer, her mother and father had been dissatisfied however keen to drop the matter. However she refused. She acquired 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 legal professionals,” Ms. Sullivan stated.

In Alpine, a city of roughly 6,000 individuals in Texas’s Large Bend Nation, some who know Ms. Sullivan stated they had been stunned she would take this on. There are different methods to spend one’s final summer time earlier than school. (She plans to attend the School of Charleston in South Carolina and main in biophysics with the intention of going into drugs.) However she had at all times been critical about faculty 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 indicate their work,” Ms. Todd added. “Why doesn’t the college have to indicate their work?”

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



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