Accusations of racism continue to fly

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

CHAPEL HILL, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas student's family and representatives say the way Chapel Hill ISD chooses their valedictorian is racist and discriminates against women. But Chapel Hill says those charges are not true. The school district tried to prove its case, but the family just didn't want to hear it.

"This is just the beginning, in a real sense," said Rev. Kyev Tatum, with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. "There needs to be light shown on Chapel Hill."

The hearing lasted more than an hour and afterward, not much had changed. Chapel Hill ISD gave Jon'Kayla Brown's family an opportunity to review the academic record of the student who surpassed her as valedictorian, but...

"We refused to look at his grades," said Rev. Tatum. "Remember now, it only takes a computer and some fingers to change a grade, or to align a process up in a way that can go along with your mathematical calculation or formula. So, the integrity of the process is out the window."

"The system has been in place for years," said Principal Lamond Dean. "Like I said, it's followed by board policy, and the system is something that we wanted to show the family and the representative the consistency in both students."

Brown's family says they don't want to continue the grievance process with the school district. They want to present their case to Governor Perry and the Obama administration.

"It's the systemic racism and supremacy that comes out of these individuals whose in charge of the system that we're going to begin to get to the root cause," said Tatum.

"Race had nothing to do with it," said Dean. "It was a final calculation of the cumulative average of two stellar students."

According to Chapel Hill ISD, since 2000, every single valedictorian has been a female. One of them was African American.

"I'm disappointed that we're speaking about race in this issue, because it was far from that," said Dean. "We had two wonderful students who had a wonderful high school career, and it came down to the wire, and we had one student's GPA a little bit higher, and I do say just a little but higher than the other, and with those accounts we have a valedictorian and a salutatorian of this senior class."

Chapel Hill ISD confirms Jon'Kayla Brown's academic scholarships and admission to Baylor University are safe. She'll just finish second, and the school is standing by that decision.

Brown's family is calling for the resignation of superintendent Joe Stubblefield and Principal Lamond Dean. They have already sent letters to the Texas Education Agency, saying Chapel Hill has been unfair throughout this process. Chapel Hill's senior class graduates Friday.

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