Grundy County School Board approves 11 Valedictorians for 2018

Grundy County School Board.jpg

The Grundy County School Board accepted a proposal to let any and all Grundy High students with a 4.0 GPA or higher be named Valedictorian for the class of 2018.

That means there will be 11 this year.

This comes after student Trevor Sanders was arrested on charges of harassing a student who was announced as valedictorian after meeting graduation requirements in just three years.

Sanders told NewsChannel 9 in an exclusive interview he was not harassing the student on Facebook, but criticizing the school board policy which allowed students who graduated in less than four years to receive the prestigious honor.

The big vote happened at the end of Thursday night's board meeting.

Before the meeting started, the parents of the valedictorian who will graduate in three years delivered a letter to the board saying, "If there are any changes made to policy, it is our opinion and suggestion that if it is not determined by the highest average of the senior, that you consider giving Valedictorian to all students that have a 4.0, whether that be 1 student or 50."

District 2 school board member Chris Snider told the crowd, " And to the people of Grundy County, we dropped the ball. This is the only way to fix it. I hope that we can move on from here. There's a lot of hateful things that have been said and we need to correct this. And I hope that everybody can look deep in their hearts and let's just move on and accept everybody."

The board dealt with what one school board member called the "elephant in the room" at the end of the meeting.

The background -- Sanders criticized the board's policy, which allows students who graduate early to become valedictorian.

One student who held the highest GPA and requirements to graduate as a senior fit that description.

Her parents complained that Sanders was harassing her on Facebook and he was arrested.

Sanders said he was only criticizing the policy.

Board attorney Chuck Cagle defined the motion. "To take Mr. (Reuben) Newsome's (District 3 school board member) motion and the second that was received, that motion should actually be to waive the policy in the handbook where we'll recognize one valedictorian and one salutatorian and to allow everyone with a 4.0 or higher grade point average to be recognized as a co-valedictorian"

Newsome answered, "I'll agree to that."

The board voted unanimously to change the handbook for this year.

Students with a 4.0 or higher are valedictorians.

Board Chairperson Phyliss Lusk announced, "Motion carries."

The good sized crowd in the cafeteria attending the meeting applauded.

Buck Carson, who has a grandchild in kindergarten, said, "Like I say, I've not got kids in the system right now, but I just like for everything to be peaceful."

So the class of 2018 will in fact have 11 valedictorians. Carson chuckled and added, "I don't know any other school system that's had that, but if that's what it takes to get everybody satisfied, I'm good with it."

The vote was only a change to this year's handbook, not the policy.

Board attorney Cagle said the board will have to revisit this issue for next year's incoming freshman class as it relates to the handbook.

Also, Sanders was not at the meeting Thursday night.

We were told he would follow the advice of his attorney regarding attending the meeting.

He is scheduled to be in court May 10th.

Depend on us to keep you posted.

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