Controversy began when Gainesville High School student Cody Stephens was slated to be co-valedictorian with a White student, Charlie Bryant, who had a lower GPA. Stephens' mother, Valerie, brought the issue to the forefront, and critics slammed the school's decision as racially charged. The situation has since been rectified, and Stephens will be the first African-American to achieve the honor at the northern Florida school.
Bryant’s parents released a letter through the school system on Monday afternoon withdrawing from the co-title. “Because of Cody's unique position of being our first African-American valedictorian, we propose that Gainesville High School utilize the upcoming graduation ceremony to celebrate his, and only his, academic record as valedictorian of perhaps one of the most talented classes that GHS has ever produced,” they stated. “Cody and Charlie, as students and friends, can deservedly share the honor at school, and we as a community, can collectively lift up Cody's accomplishments as a unifying element to be proudly witnessed on graduation day.” The school board has no further comment.
Are the school board's actions surprising? What possible reason could they have for wanting a co-valedictorian?