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Black Mississippi Student Suing After Salutatorian Title Tak

Black Mississippi Student Suing After Salutatorian Title Taken Away
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Cleveland High School
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A Mississippi student is suing her former high school alleging they took away her salutatorian title and gave it to a white student. MPB’s Alexandra Watts reports.

Olecia James is suing Cleveland School District after her GPA was lowered and her salutatorian title was taken away.

James is a freshman at Alcorn State University. She said a special salutatorian scholarship to The University of Mississippi was rescinded when her GPA dropped.

“It’s an indescribable feeling. It’s almost unbelievable to see," she said. "For people to have that mindset, you wouldn’t even think that.”

In 2017, the historically black and historically white high schools were court ordered to desegregated merged into Cleveland Central High School.

James attended the now closed and historically black East Side High School. She said her classes were deemed less rigorous and weighted differently allowing another student to be declared salutatorian.

“Coming from the predominantly black school, there wasn’t a lot of our traditions that were carried over. The traditions from the predominately white side of town were kept and ours wasn’t.”

Lisa Ross is a Jackson attorney representing James.

“I think that the district is at a very pivotal point in history," Ross said. "The district has some kinks to work through, but we don’t believe that the kinks ought to be worked out on the backs of the black students.”

Ross is also representing another black student who sued the district in 2017 -- alleging she was forced to share valedictorian honor with a white student who had a lower GPA.

Arnold Luciano represents the district and had no comment on the lawsuit.

Alexandra Watts, MPB News.