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GCHS student arrested overnight for alleged harassment

Posted on Thursday, April 5, 2018 at 9:15 am

(Update 4.5.18 1:37)

The Herald just had the opportunity to talk to Lindsey Layne, the sister of Kristin Weaver who was as recently as December informed that she (Kristen) was ranked number 1 in the GCHS senior class.

Layne had a prepared statement which she shared with the Herald. In it, she states:

“I am the Salutatorian’s sister and legal guardian. Our family’s stance on this issue is that she was bumped down from the position of Valedictorian, which she rightfully earned with years of hard work, by an unfair and unprecedented situation.

“She has worked very hard to EARN the title of Valedictorian of the Class of 2018. She was replaced by a student that is not a member of her class and who we feel had an unfair opportunity to graduate early. This is highly upsetting as my sister was not given the option or opportunity.

“We feel that a special privilege was allowed for this student and it was not offered to my sister or the other members of the Class of 2018.

“The Grundy County School Board policy is that there can be only one Valedictorian and one Salutatorian. We recommend that the Grundy County Board of Education take action and change this policy now due to the unfair and unprecedented situation that arose from one student being offered opportunities that the rest of the Class of 2018 were not offered.

“We feel that changing this policy to allow two Valedictorians this year would rectify the situation. It would allow both students to share the title of Valedictorian and it would also bump everyone up in the rankings to the position they rightfully EARNED to begin with.

“There is a Grundy County School Board meeting on April 12, at 6 p.m. with a workshop at 5 p.m. The Board of Education can act on this matter then and we highly recommend that they do so. It is only fair to the members of the Class of 2018 who are suffering for a situation that was not created by them.

“We recommend that any parents or students affected please contact your board members and show up on April 12, so that your elected representatives can hear your concerns regarding this matter.

“Thank you.”

Weaver was told by the GCHS guidance office in December that she was ranked number 1 in the senior class. This is an important distinction as college applications ask for a student’s rank. What happened between December and this week to drop her to the number 2 spot?

We have been told by a school board member that a lawsuit was threatened by the family of the student who was named Valedictorian this week. Did this threat play into the decision to name the student Valedictorian? We are working to confirm this and other questions.

Layne says her sister is an excellent student who has worked diligently to be named Valediction. Weaver has not missed a day of school since Kindergarten and is a three sport athlete, in addition to taking dual enrollment courses.

Another factor that may have led to the naming of the current Valedictorian is how courses are weighted. We have been informed by a source that college courses automatically have five points added to their final grade. Not so with regular high school courses. If this is true, the standards for determining the Valediction come under question. It would be impossible to evenly weight the scores and grades of the two students.

 

(Update 4.5.18 12:30 p.m. The student charged with harassment has been released from jail. According to Mobile Patrol, he was arrested last night at 10:49 p.m., and released this morning at 9:32 p.m.)

 

A Grundy County High School student was arrested overnight for allegedly harassing another student.

After the school released the names of top students on Monday, parents and students questioned the naming of the Valedictorian. While original reports to the Herald suggested she did not attend classes at GCHS and only took college classes, the Herald has since been informed by school administration that the named Valedictorian is registered as a full-time student at the school and enrolled in dual enrollment classes. 

In naming the student as Valedictorian, it knocked other GCHS full-time students out of the running for Valedictorian and Salutatorian, honors that come with monetary scholarship offers.

The GCHS student who was arrested vocalized his opinions during school hours on Tuesday and was given three days of in school suspension. In a Facebook post, he stated:

“This is the problem at Grundy County High School. Speaking out against a decision is “harassment”, and exercising my 1st Amendment right to my opinion is “insubordination.” The administration at Grundy County High School no longer seems to care about student experience. The only things that matters to Deidre Helton and Adam Floyd are test scores and sports headlines. Meanwhile, if you’re just a regular student, you can expect to be met with hostility if you express any dissent against their rule. Civil Servants, funded by your tax dollars, act as autocrats with almost zero checks to their power.

For context: A member of the Class of 2019 has earned the ability to graduate early. Despite that she was never competing with the Seniors, she was given Valedictorian for the Class of 2018. Many Seniors, myself included, did not think this was fair. I’ve vocalized my opinion, stating that “Seniors were robbed!” and making jokes about “#NotMyValedictorian.” Other than these humor-derived remarks, I’ve also had logical discussions with other students on both sides of the situation. However, because a handful of students were “offended” by my words, I was sent to the office and written up for harassment. I received 3 days of ISS for showing dissent with the administration. No derogatory, insulting, or objectively offensive remarks were made toward the student who was named Valedictorian. My problem is, and has always been, with the decision to consider her for the honor. Her early graduation is enough of a reward; Valedictorian should go to the student who has worked the hardest for four years, rather than a student who took the shorter way with credit recovery.

I don’t think that the girl should have Valedictorian taken from her. I feel that she never should have been considered for it, but what is done is done. Now, the sensible option would be to give this student and the highest-average Senior Co-Valedictorianships. #3 would be given Salutatorian. This not only eliminates the tension between the Junior girl and the Senior class, but also gives another student the honor to speak on stage.

Note: I informed the administration that I was recording this video. If you have any questions or would like additional context, please feel free to ask.

I’d also like to thank “Flop the Super Cop” for escorting me to and from ISS. I don’t know how I could have ever found it without your help, considering I’ve been there for four years and all.”

Director of Schools provided the Herald with the following comment:

“Class rankings were calculated based on school board policy and the student handbook. Each student ranked with either a Diploma of Distinction or Honors Diploma worked diligently to meet those strenuous requirements and I congratulate them on this accomplishment.”

The parents of the newly named Valedictorian took out a warrant against him for harassment.

Do you think his actions constitute harassment. He has received tremendous support on social media for standing up for his beliefs.

As of this posting, he remains in jail.

 

We are working to keep you updated on this story.