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Hernando County School Board agrees it needs to reinstate valedictorian, salutatorian rankings

6:55 PM, Jun 4, 2013   |    comments
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Brooksville, Florida -- At high school graduations you expect to hear from the top of the class the valedictorian and salutatorian, but a decision by the Hernando School Board eliminated those rankings starting with this year's freshman class. Now, after a backlash from parents and students, the board is revisiting that decision.

The school board's decision came last summer, but students from the Class of 2016 only started learning about it last week -- and it turns out, some school board members didn't realize they had voted to eliminate the class designations.

"I'm sorry. But, on the other hand, I think a lot of other people need to be sorry too. And somehow, someway we need to work on this process so this doesn't happen again," Hernando School Board member Dianne Bonfield said at a meeting to school officials.

Bonfield apologized for not fully reading the material she and the board voted on last summer to eliminate valedictorians and salutatorians starting with this freshman class of 2016, but Bonfield said the process failed. 

"The major question here is: Why was such a change not brought before this board?

Superintendent Brian Blavatt said the process did work. 

"It was brought up in a workshop, item by item, with cross hashes and underlining," he argued.

"We brought it forward in the meeting at the workshop item by item with crossed hash marks and underlying."

Bonfield fired back, "It was brought to the board as: Are there any questions? But to me, that's not bringing it to the board -- that's the board having to play Super Sleuth to find it."

The problem Superintendent Blavatt said is district staff did not make the issue clear enough -- and even he misunderstood. 

In the end, the board agreed to reinstate the valedictorian and salutatorian rankings.

"Trophies are important. Achievement is important. We're not going to water it down in this district," said John Sweeney, Hernando School Board member. "It will be rectified."

The board agreed it must read through each document before voting and the superintendent's agreed his role is to make sure any issue of concern is brought to the board's attention.

While the board agreed it needs to restore the valedictorian and salutatorian rankings, the school board chairman asked the superintendent to bring potential policy changes on how best to do this to the next school board meeting set for June 25.

Isabel Mascarenas

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