Diploma dilemma: Valedictorian stripped of title days before graduation
PLAQUEMINE- A high school senior in Iberville Parish spent the night before her graduation with a more bitter than sweet taste over the way school administrators handled a situation.
Last week, a Plaquemine High administrator contacted Kenda Jackson's family and told her she was the school's valedictorian. That's when her family immediately began taking steps to make the day special for her.
"As a parent, I ordered shirts, banners, yard signs, the works because she worked hard," said Angela Jenkins, Jackson's mother.
Four days later, the school said it recalculated the grades, and Jackson missed being valedictorian by .002 points in her GPA, according to Jenkins.
"When I talked to the principal, Donnie Love, he was going to call me Wednesday," Jenkins said. "Wednesday, he lets me know my daughter is no longer valedictorian."
"They know I put the hard work in, and all the teachers and staff can speak to my character and who I am," said Kenda Jackson, the Plaquemine High senior. "I'm confused how the error was made."
The WBRZ Investigative Unit spent hours Thursday trying to get straight answers from the school system about how this happened. A trip to the school board office and sitting in the lobby caused Superintendent Arthur Joffrion to respond to our questions with two words: "Human error."
WBRZ learned another student noticed that her final grade for the school year was not entered correctly. That student reached out to a teacher and the school did a recount.
"I'm highly upset," Jenkins said. "This could have been handled differently."
The family has no ill feelings toward the other student who worked hard as well, but they think the school system should get its act together before giving students false hope.
"It feels like a slap in the face. My teachers know the hard work I put in. A slap in the face," Jackson said.
Jackson will now be the salutatorian at graduation. She intends to enroll at Southeastern this fall and major in early childhood education or business.