Lawsuit Claims Arkansas School Won’t Allow Black Valedictorian

A graduating Arkansas high school senior claims her school denied her valedictorian status because she is black, despite boasting the highest GPA in her class. According to the court document filed by her attorney, 18-year-old Kymberly Wimberly would have been the first black valedictorian of McGehee Secondary School since 1989. Forty-six percent of students in the school are black, according to the Huffington Post.

Wimberly’s mother, Molly Bratton, said she heard school personnel say giving Wimberly valedictorian status would cause “a big mess.” Subsequently, McGehee’s principal Darrell Thompson told Bratton that he was naming a white “co-valedictorian.” The school board would not hear Bratton’s appeals.

In an interview with the McGehee Dermott Times-News, District Superintendent Thomas Gathen said, "It's not a race issue; it's an academic issue." He went on to explain that Wimberly and the co-valedictorian had identical grades, Wimberly had fewer credits, giving her the higher GPA. Gathen said school district policy was designed to keep students who take a greater number of credits from being penalized.

"We followed to the letter our district policy in designating our valedictorians," Gathen said.

The federal discrimination complaint seeks punitive damages for violation of equal protection rights secured by the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution.


Update: Federal Civil Rights suit aimed at Alabama Sheriff who ran Scared Straight-like Program

scared straightThe Anniston Star is reporting that a federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed against a Calhoun County, Ala., Sheriff who is accused of running a program that put juveniles into close contact with hardened criminals in a manner that is similar to the "scared straight" programs.

The Star quotes experts as saying the way Sheriff Larry Amerson operated the program runs contrary to federal and state law.

The suit was brought by the father of a juvenile identified as J.B. It alleges that at one point during a recent visit by J.B., a deputy and an inmate verbally and physically abused him, pushing him and hurling racial slurs at him. The suit says that Amerson later came to speak to the boy. The Star obtained a copy of a video of part of that conversation, showing Amerson  "grabbing and holding down a boy dressed in an orange-striped inmate jumpsuit. The boy, whom the suit identifies as J.B., is shackled and has his hands cuffed behind his back during the incident," wrote The Star's Cameron Steele.


Can You Sue a 4 year old? Yes, You Can.

The New York Supreme court has redefined the legal age of accountability. This comes from an October 1, 2010 ruling from Justice Paul Wooten who determined that it is possible for a 4 year old to be negligent. As a result, there is a negligence suit against a 4 year old child. The details are laid out in the New York Times,

Two years ago Juliet Breitman and Jacob Kohn, both four at the time, were racing their bicycles on a sidewalk. The bicycles had training wheels. Juliet ran into an 87 year-old woman, resulting in a hip fracture that required surgery. Three weeks later, the woman died. The woman’s family then sued both children and their mothers.

Juliet’s lawyer, James P. Tyrie argued that Juliet should not be sued. He based his arguments on the fact that her mother was supervising the little girl, and he cited a 1928 court case as precedent.  The court case states that kids under the age of four are considered unable to commit the act of negligence.

Justice Wooten disagreed. He found the fact that Juliet was being supervised irrelevant, citing the word too vague to hold any meaning.  He also stated that it didn’t matter that the mother was present because Juliet knew the difference between right and wrong. It would have been different if her mother had encouraged her. The 1928 precedent was also thrown out because Juliet was three months shy of turning five at the time of the accident. Justice Wooten pointed out that there is no “bright line rule” for children over the age of four.