School board members establish district-level valedictorian and salutatorian policy

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FARMINGTON — The Farmington Municipal School District Board of Education has approved a district-level valedictorian and salutatorian policy to address concerns about student eligibility for the coveted graduation titles.

Board members approved adding an entry to board policies regarding the selection of a valedictorian and salutatorian for district high schools during their board meeting Thursday night.

The new policy helps address concerns about a student’s eligibility for the valedictorian or salutatorian titles if they attend enrichment programs during their junior or senior year.

Deputy Superintendent Phil Valdez said enrichment programs include opportunities for students to study abroad in a foreign country and specialized academies at a higher education institute or private school.

“We should give (the students) the best opportunities," Valdez said.

According to the minutes of the Aug. 13 school board meeting, Superintendent Gene Schmidt asked the board to establish a policy after a high school student recently made a request to be exempted from the policy listed in the high school handbook.

Schmidt also noted a student in 2011 made the same request, and the school board members approved the request.

The policy in the Farmington and Piedra Vista high school handbooks states a student must attend a district school for two full years immediately prior to graduation to be eligible for valedictorian or salutatorian.

The new policy states a student is required to attend a district high school for the second or spring semester of their junior year and two semesters of their senior year to be eligible.

The students with the two highest grade point averages at each school are selected to be valedictorian and salutatorian.

The requirements can be waived if a high school principal approves a request before the enrichment program starts. Then the student would only be required to attend the second semester of their senior year at a district high school to be eligible.

Valdez said the waiver only applies to students attending an enrichment program and would not be applied for students who transfer to a Farmington high school during their senior year.

The district policy passed on Thursday conflicts with the valedictorian and salutatorian policies in the Farmington high and Piedra Vista student handbooks for the current school year.

Valdez said the high school handbooks which will be updated in the future to reflect the new district policy.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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