One high school student learned a lesson about class rank and the law. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
Olecia James was a model student who ranked second in her high school class in Cleveland, Mississippi. But based on a state decree, her high school was consolidated with another high school before her senior year, which reshuffled class rankings and which, with only a few weeks to go before her graduation, placed her third in the class and she lost her role as salutatorian, so she sued, arguing the school district violated her right to due process.
The Appeals Court just ruled that while students have a constitutionally-protected interest in receiving a state-provided public education, there’s no free-standing right to class rank. The Court said students and parents must be treated fairly and given the opportunity to explain their views, but educational decisions are for the local schools, not the courts, to make. Ms. James lost the case but is no doubt on her way to becoming a great lawyer if she so chooses.
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