Cherokee Changes Rules For Valedictorians

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — After weeks of controversy, the Cherokee County School Board has changed requirements for class valedictorians.

It now says students who get that honor actually have to take classes through their high school.

Channel 2's Diana Davis reports the change was made after a student who never went to classes at Etowah High School got that school's top honor.

The student took all her classes at West Georgia College through a dual enrollment program. The school board ruled that those classes added to more points and a higher GPA.

Another student who went to Etowah all four years and earned straight As thought she'd earned the top spot until earlier this year.

Sydney Perlotto's father told Channel 2 that the formula used to calculate students' grade point average was unfair.

"It was a shock for her quite honestly," said Perlotto.

Thursday night the Cherokee County School Board announced that from now on, all dual enrollment students have to take at least two classes each semester through their high school. They may be in traditional classrooms, or in approved online or virtual courses.

Though Sydeny Perlotto's father said the ruling was an improvement, Mark Perlotto said the board's decision doesn't go far enough and should be retroactive to this year's junior class.

"The policy is still not equitable even with the changes the board is planning for next year," said Mark Perlotto. "There's still a bias and favoritism shown to how the GPA is calculated for these classes for dual-enrolled students as opposed to students who actually attend classes on the campus."

Mark Perlotto told Davis that calculating students GPA is more important than ever since requirements for the state's HOPE scholarship have been tightened.

"If a student were to be bumped out of that number one spot, then their guaranteed free scholarship for in-state tuition in Georgia goes away," said Mark Perlotto.

Last month, the Cherokee County School Board agreed to a one-time waiver allowing the high school to honor co-valedictorians. Etowah High School seniors graduate May 28.