Rogers: High School valedictorian dispute resolved

Allyson Talbott. (Courtesy photo)
Allyson Talbott. (Courtesy photo)(KWTX)
Published: May. 22, 2017 at 5:45 PM CDT
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A dispute over who ranks at the top of the senior class at Rogers High School that led to the filing of a lawsuit was resolved Tuesday by the two students in contention for the title of valedictorian.

Cheerleader Allyson Talbott, 18, who ranked at the top of her class at midterm, and Taylor Frei, who was designated class valedictorian after a recalculation of final grades, will share the honor.

The decision came after attorney Brett Pritchard filed a lawsuit Monday in state district court in Belton on behalf of Talbott that asked the court to declare Talbott the valedictorian and the student with the highest grade-point average.

During a hearing Tuesday, Frei was asked whether she would be willing to share the honor, and she agreed.

“The Rogers High School valedictorian controversy has been decided by the students themselves,” attorney Brett Pritchard said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“Instead of long and protracted litigation, the students themselves came together and decided to be co-valedictorians. If it is true that the children of today are the leaders of the future, these two young ladies demonstrate that our future is in good hands,” Pritchard said.

Rogers High School's graduation ceremony is Thursday.

Rogers Superintendent Joe Craig issued a brief statement in which he said, “The girls have decided to resolve this matter by agreeing to share the honor of valedictorian. They have both worked very hard and we are so proud of them. The District does not intend to offer any further comment on this matter and looks forward to celebrating all of our graduates and honoring their hard work this Thursday.”

The dispute started after the district calculated class rankings around spring break and Talbott learned she would graduate as salutatorian of her class.

According to the Rogers ISD Student Handbook, the grade average after the third nine weeks of the senior year is used to determine “class rank for ceremonial purposes only.”

Talbott then discovered that a grade for a dual-credit course she took at Temple College was misreported, but the district initially refused to reconsider the rankings, saying they were determined based on the information available at the time.

Then on Friday, the district announced Talbott would graduate as salutatorian after a new calculation based on final grades, Rogers Superintendent Joe Craig said.

The district acknowledged that with the correction of the dual-credit course grade, Talbott was at top of the class at midterm, but said Frei was designated valedictorian based on the new calculation.