Black Valedictorian Had her College Scholarship Taken Away after Critical Graduation Speech

Destiny Brannon used her platform as a high school valedictorian to state her beliefs on the lack of commitment of teachers and the school’s emphasis on athletics instead of academics. The DeSoto ISD principal had approved her speech. But now the school claims that thanks to miscalculating rankings from only one semester, instead of two, she’s no longer the valedictorian.

The school fired those responsible for the errors, and district spokeswoman Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones said the “recalibrated rankings are in no way a form of retribution or in response to Brannon’s address.”

But now her first-year scholarship, due to her valedictorian status, has been cancelled, leaving her a $10,000 University of Texas at Austin bill for her family to pay.

Brannon, however, says that no one at DeSoto ISD has apologized to her, and she didn’t expect the district to step in to offer her financial help. Her family has started a GoFundMe page to cover the $25,000 annual price tag at UT Austin.

The DeSoto ISD student body makeup is 50 percent male and 50 percent female, and the total minority enrollment is 97 percent. There are over 3,000 students and 190 teachers in the magnet school. DeSoto, Texas, is almost 70 percent Black.

Meanwhile the new valedictorian, Brian Uzuegbunam, said his family is trying to negotiate with DeSoto to compensate his college tuition in light of the mix-up. Uzuegbunam had planned to go to Texas A&M, a school that is not on the list of state schools that offer the first-year scholarship.

However, Blackmon-Jones said that, to the school district’s knowledge, neither Brannon nor the new valedictorian’s “college acceptance or coverage of their tuition has been impacted.”

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