Karen Scherr of Kingwood, TX, has the highest GPA in her graduating class. She has attended Kingwood Public Schools since kindergarten. But she won't be class valedictorian unless the powers-that-be decide to bend a little on a 15-year-old rule that was intended to keep incoming students from other school districts from inappropriately grabbing the honor–students who might not have had to face the same standards Kingwood students confront.
The problem: Scherr wasn't "enrolled" at Kingwood High (or was it, really, she wasn't in attendance?) on the 20th day of her junior year. Instead, she was in a hospital being treated for anorexia nervosa.
It appears that a large percentage of other top seniors at the school all oppose the school administration's decision in the matter. "My rank as valedictorian is hollow, tainted by this unjust situation," said Alex Gorham who was named valedictorian in Scherr's place. "She deserves it more than anyone. She had an eating disorder and went to an Oklahoma hospital for help and still maintained her No. 1 rank."
A spokesperson for the Humble Independent School District in which Kingwood is located said the district must "decide if it would be fair to retroactively change a rule that would affect other students who had followed it."
I say, the district should leave the rule in place. This has nothing to do with the rule. (Or, rather, it need have nothing to do with the rule.
District officials should take a peek at their history books and recall why the founding fathers inserted the rule concerning an "impartial jury" by persons "of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed" into the U.S. Constitution (Art. III, Sec. 2; Amendment 6). They should recall the history of jury nullification.
Scherr has, if you will, been "tried" by a jury of her peers and they have found her innocent, despite the law. The law (the rule concerning enrollment) can stand. But Scherr can be set free by this "jury of her peers."
I hope I can find someone at the Humble Independent School District who might listen to my plea.
*Addendum (May 18 at 10:05)*
From: John Holzmann
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 10:02 AM
Subject: Historical solution for Scherr case . . .
I was informed of y'all's dilemma concerning Karen Scherr.
May I suggest that the District apply the theory of "jury nullification" to the case rather than thinking it must "change the [longstanding] rule" concerning enrollment?
Check out Jury Nullification by Doug Linder for a little history on the subject. Jury nullification has a long and illustrious history in the United States.
Based on the news report I saw (the Houston Chronicle article Head of class may not be valedictorian), Karen has been judged "innocent" by a jury of her peers.
Apply the lessons of history and let her go free.