Friday, June 6, 2008

Accused Valedictorian Sues to Participate in Graduation



Across the country this month, high school students and their families are filling auditoriums to celebrate that rite of passage that signifies an important bridge from childhood to being an adult – graduation. In most cases, the valedictorian of each class will give a speech reminding his or her peers of amusing class memories and sharing a few adolescent nuggets of wisdom for the years ahead. For one top student, the honor of speaking to his fellow graduates has been taken away following a computer hacking scandal, and he is fighting to get back his spot on the podium.

Khurrum Khan, the valedictorian at George Bush High School in Fort Bend, Texas, (suburb of Houston) is one of twenty-seven students being investigated for computer tampering with the purpose of altering grades. He faces a felony charge for his role for stealing computers at one district high school and tampering with computers at another school.

Khan filed a lawsuit in a Houston federal court earlier this week requesting a temporary restraining order and an emergency hearing. With the salutatorian currently preparing to leave his understudy role and make the big speech at graduation tomorrow, a quick hearing was granted and took place yesterday afternoon. U.S. District Judge David Hittner is supposed to rule on Khan’s request to participate in graduation by 2:00pm today.

The George Bush High School valedictorian maintains his innocence, and indicated that his high GPA made it unnecessary to alter his records or take chances with any other wrongdoing. He sees long-term repercussions if he is unable to graduate with the rest of his classmates. As reported in The Houston Chronicle,

"Preventing me from having the opportunity to establish my innocence or providing me with a hearing in order that I may do so brings dishonor upon me and my family," Khan wrote. "Preventing me from graduating with my class and giving the valedictory address will haunt me the rest of my life."

In records presented by the school district, Khan previously described his involvement in the scandal as “minimal.” Having minimal involvement is quite different from no participation at all, so which version is accurate? We should know how the judge views all the evidence by the end of the day.