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May 29, 2013 7:19 PM by Morgan Frances - MFrances@kristv.com

Valedictorian Controversy Comes to a Conclusion

BEN BOLT - The controversy over Ben Bolt's valedictorian got even more interesting today. The debate centers around some final semester college courses and whether those are allowed to count toward a student's final GPA.

Since each student wants the honor just as bad as the next, things got pretty emotional.

"It just hurt my daughter because we're just trying to find out what was right, what was fair," said Lori Zambrano, Elizabeth's mother.

Both sides of the battle to who will be Ben Bolt's next valedictorian have been put through the ringer. Cody Trejo said the school told him he was valedictorian but went back and told him that he wasn't. Last week the school said the same to his competitor, Elizabeth Zambrano who was salutatorian at the time.

"When she got here, I told her and we congratulated her and we went out to eat and she was starting to write her speech," her mother said.

There was confusion, however, as to what policy the school should follow. The controversy got so heated, the school and each student had representation from lawyers at an emergency school meeting Tuesday night.
It was there that board members made their final decision.

Dr. Scott Norris, Ben Bolt Superintendent, said, "We had some policies in place in 2002, we had some policies in place that changed in 2012 so we had to go back to that specific handbook that was in place when they came in as freshmen."

Using an older policy from 2009 meant Cody's spring college courses would count and Elizabeth's international baccalaureate courses from another school would not. Since the race was tight, those minor policy changes are what made the difference.

"I said how can this be? How can you call us and tell us for the second time," Zambrano said.

Elizabeth, a future University of Texas-Pan American student, said the school promised her a full ride as valedictorian. Without it she'd likely lose that scholarship.

Elizabeth said the whole fiasco has left a sour taste in her mouth and that she does not plan to attend graduation because of it. Superintendent Scott Norris said from here on out, the handbook and its policies in place with a student in their freshman year will follow them through graduation. Cody's family says they're glad it's all been resolved.

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