The parents of the recently named valedictorian and saluterian left the ceremony, knowing that Emma Berry and her father were upset but not thinking anything of it. However, the next day Emma and Dominic’s parents did their homework.
“We got the 2020-2021 Handbook,” said Mr. Berry. “It all came down to the booklet.”
The issue was how to calculate who were the top two students. Ikeria and Layla live based on the calculation of quality point average or QPA, a system of calculating grades that gave additional weighting to advanced placements and dual-credit courses. But, it turns out, Dominic and Emma were the top two finishers based on unweighted grade point averages.
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The parents of two white students discussed with West Point Schools Superintendent Burnell McDonald, complaining that the school did not follow its rules in calculating class ranks.
Based on the West Point High School Student Handbook, and after talking with white parents, Mr. McDonald, who is Black, concluded that class rank should be calculated from grade point averages, leaving two white students. Would be honored
The evening before graduation, Mr. McDonald informed Dominic and Emma’s parents: he was adding two white students as co-respecters – Dominic was now co-valedictorian and Emma, co-salutatorian.
Mr McDonald also allowed two missing grades – which a teacher had failed to record in the system – to be added to the final grade in one of Emma’s classes, one before the deadline and after senior awards night.
Mr Berry said the grades added for Emma did not change the result.
Once the decision was made, race was not the only issue that was raised.
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