Officials at a Texas high school are coming under fire after informing its recent valedictorian that she wasn’t the top student after all.
Destiny Brannon had walked the stage on May 31, given her speech, and had been declared the school’s top student on social media. But when she returned home from freshman orientation at the University of Texas at Austin last month, Destiny and her parents were called into a meeting with officials at DeSoto High School who informed the bright young woman she was actually third in her class, not first.
“It’s embarrassing to see your accomplishments taken away,” Destiny said.
The school blamed the mix-up on a miscalculation and claimed it failed to factor in both fall and spring grades into the equation, but Destiny believes her speech —which took the school district to task prioritizing sports over academics— was the real cause for the change in her status.
DeSoto ISD issued a statement, explaining it “regrets that it failed to ensure that systems were in place to prevent this from occurring, but has since worked diligently to ensure that those at fault have been held accountable and that there is a system and process in place to verify student academic ranking as based on grades, grade point average and course weighting.”
While a district spokesperson said DeSoto ISD had apologies to the families involved and fired those responsible, Destiny said no one has reached out to her to admit wrongdoing.
“No one at that school or in its administration is going to take accountability on this,” she said.
With her valedictorian status now stripped away, Destiny no longer qualifies for free tuition during her first year of college. Though she has some scholarships, it may not be enough to cover her tuition.
“We’re possibly going to have to pay for a first-year tuition that we were not prepared for,” Destiny’s mother, Samantha Johnson-Brannon, told WFAA.
To help with the unexpected cost of tuition, Destiny’s family turned to the crowd-funding platform, GoFundMe, and they’ve already exceeded their $25,000 goal.