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'99 Athens grad loses suit against board

By Holly Hollman
DAILY Staff Writer 340-2445

ATHENS — Athens High School's first black valedictorian, an honor she shared with a white student, lost her lawsuit against the school system.

Pamela Kirby filed suit in 2001 alleging racial discrimination and negligence by the Athens City Board of Education.

Board attorney Shane Black said Thursday night that Limestone County Circuit Court Judge Bob Baker dismissed the suit last week in favor of the board. Black said Kirby could appeal.

He said Baker sealed the court records because it includes student grades, which are not public record.

Kirby, who shared 1999 valedictorian honors with Jayme Greer, always contended she had a higher grade point average. Part of the controversy resulted when a literature teacher whited out a grade and lowered it one point. That made Kirby tie with Greer, according to DAILY articles.

The board had an auditing firm review both students' grades, and the firm determined the two still tied, with Kirby earning the point she lost in literature because a course Greer took at Calhoun Community College was overlooked in original calculations.

Both students made valedictorian speeches at graduation. In her speech Kirby said she had always dreamed of being valedictorian, but she also dreamed to "practice love, forgiveness, patience and kindness."

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