Parent's bid to enjoin outcome is spurned


June 04, 1993|By Frank D. Roylance and Mary Maushard | Frank D. Roylance and Mary Maushard,Staff Writers

Former Baltimore Colt Stan White went to court this week in a bid to force Dulaney High School to name his daughter co-valedictorian of her class, claiming that negligence by school officials allowed Amanda White to be edged out by another student, Angela Lee.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Joseph F. Murphy refused to issue the order on the grounds that he had no jurisdiction, and the family has since decided to drop the issue.

But papers filed in the case charge that school officials at the highest levels participated in the intrigue over the girls' long-standing academic rivalry, at one point agreeing to keep Amanda's attempts to regain her top-ranked status a secret from her ultimately successful rival.

The suit alleges that Superintendent Stuart Berger participated in a meeting last fall in which school officials gave Amanda special permission to take a night school course in "Music Perspectives" that would give her enough extra credits to restore her top class ranking, then agreed to keep the information from Angela so that she would not do the same.

But the suit charges that Dr. Berger later discussed the situation with a group of teachers and with the student member of the county school board.

School officials later gave Angela special permission to take a night course so she could retain her top rank, the suit alleges.

School administrators maintained silence on the issue yester- day. However, school board member Hilda Hillman expressed amazement when informed of the allegations.

"I can't believe Dr. Berger condoned such a thing," she said. "I find it hard to believe any school official would be involved in it. I'm going to ask some questions, because if that's what happened I want to know it."

Dulaney Principal Thomas R. Hensley refused to comment on the competition between the two girls, citing pending litigation. "Dulaney's graduation is going to take place on Sunday," he said.

Dulaney's guidance director, Wendy Mopsik, also refused to comment.

Dr. Berger, asked yesterday about the lawsuit, said, "We're not going to comment on that."

Mr. White, a WBAL talk show host and attorney, said yesterday that he and his wife would not pursue their lawsuit any further.

"I would say it's all over now," he said. "Mandy's been through enough. To subject her to any more wouldn't be fair at this point in her life."

'She's still No.1'

"In everybody's mind, she's still the No. 1 ranked student and class valedictorian," he said. "That's not to take anything from Angela Lee. But everybody in school knows it. They know who should have been ranked No. 1."

At Dulaney's senior awards ceremony last night, where she accepted the valedictorian's trophy, Angela declined to comment directly on the issue.

"Basically, Mr. Hensley [the principal] did not want us to talk about it," she said. "He thought it would cause factions in the school. Graduation is supposed to be a happy time. We don't want controversy."

According to Amanda's father and others who know her, Amanda White is a fierce competitor in everything she does. She is a three-time All-Metro Runner of the Year in cross country and a two-time Runner of the Year in track. She won this year's Kinney National Cross Country Invitational and the national indoor two-mile and one-mile indoor events. She is also a member of the U.S. Junior National Swim Team, ranked nationally in the breast stroke and and individual medley.

A straight-A student who took an all-gifted-and-talented track at Dulaney, she will attend Stanford University in the fall.

"It's all coming from Mandy, that's for sure," her father said of Amanda's competitive spirit. "She is not one that needs to be pushed. Everybody who knows her or sees her run knows that. The way you punish Mandy is not let her swim or run."

According to court papers and Mr. White, Amanda entered Dulaney four years ago, determined to graduate as valedictorian -- first in her class.

Quality points

In Baltimore County, the honor is awarded based on a "quality point" system calculated by a combination of grades and the difficulty of the courses taken. Class scheduling is critical. For example, an A in a gifted and talented English course is worth more quality points than an A in an honors or regular English course.

Students can also improve their chances of achieving a higher class rank by taking summer and night school courses.

Amanda had earned all A's since sixth grade, her father said. "I stayed in contact with different guidance counselors the whole time so she didn't get out-scheduled. I wanted to make sure she had a level playing field so she could earn the rank of valedictorian."

Valedictorians in Baltimore County are not required to give a commencement speech. The rank is strictly honorary.

Why was the goal so important to Amanda?

"Because she's a competitive person," Mr. White said. "She takes great pride in what she does, and that's the reward that's out there for [academic] excellence. Everything she does, she tries to be No. 1."

Told she was first

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