Dalee Sullivan looked straight ahead into her computer’s camera and started making her case to the judge. She referred to transcripts, emails and policies she had pulled from the student handbook at Alpine High School. The school, she contended, had made errors in tabulating grade-point averages: Classes and exams that should have been included were left out, and vice versa.
Ms. Sullivan had won Lincoln-Douglas debate tournaments and, in her freshman year, was a member of the mock trial team. But she is not a lawyer. She is 18, and she graduated from the lone public high school in the small West Texas town of Alpine just a week ago, which was the reason she was in court to begin with.
“This serves to prove that no matter the outcome of the G.P.A. contest, and no matter how many times we had the school recalculate the G.P.A.,” Ms. Sullivan told the judge during a hearing on Friday, the Alpine Independent School District “was going to make certain I could never be valedictorian, even if I earned it.”
School officials said she ranked third in her class. Ms. Sullivan disagreed.