Students Ikeria Washington and Layla Temple have the support of the local Mississippi community amidst allegations of racism.
Two Black teens who earned valedictorian and salutatorian rights are feeling love and support from their Mississippi community after a local school district administrators added additional metrics, allowing for two white students to share those titles.
Allegations of racism and white privilege are lobbed at West Point Consolidated School District located in West Point, Mississippi, after the news was made public via Mississippi Today, this week. Students Ikeria Washington and Layla Temple were named district valedictorian and salutatorian days before their class graduation at an awards ceremony. The praise for their hard work and academic achievements was short-lived after the school district decided to change its ranking metrics on the morning of the graduation.
Washington and Temple were selected based on their Quality Point Average (QPA), but including Grade Point Average (GPA) the selection of the white students—Dominic Borgioli and Emma Berry—was able to commence since they reportedly had the highest grade marks. Community members were rightfully outraged, prompting the school district to release a statement to explain the selection process.
“There are two methods to determine a student’s class rank,” the statement reads. “The first is Quality Point Average, or QPA. The second is Grade Point Average, or GPA. The two students with the highest GPA are Dominic Borgioli and Emma Berry. The WPCSD feels it necessary to recognize all four seniors at graduation.”
Washington and Temple’s family aren’t buying the school administration claims of a mistake, especially since both found out about the incident on social media. Each side took to their own respective pages to vent their frustrations, prior to the school deactivating the posts. Angela Washington, Ikeria’s mother, claimed in a Facebook post that Superintendent Burnell McDonald was forced to change the rules due to parent intimidation.
Dominic and Emma’s parents claim that accusation is false.
Angela Washington and Lakira Temple, Layla’s mother, both have shared that their children have suffered humiliation and emotional distress over the incident. “The superintendent made her feel as if she wasn’t as smart as the other kids, and that she shouldn’t believe that she’s on their level,” Lakira said.
Both families plan on meeting with the school board later this month.