DESOTO, Texas—A former DeSoto High School student who was stripped of her valedictorian title after the district admitted a ranking miscalculation, is headed off to college Monday with more money for school than she ever expected.
At the end of May, 18-year-old Destiny Brannon addressed her peers as valedictorian before they walked the stage and graduated as DeSoto High’s Class of 2018. Brannon was even heavily publicized by DeSoto ISD as valedictorian before then.
But almost a month after graduation, the district confirmed to WFAA that a huge mistake had been made. A spokesperson revealed that the district miscalculated student rankings and that Brannon was not valedictorian.
The teen’s transcripts tell the whole scholastic nightmare. In a transcript from June 6, six days after graduation, Brannon is still sitting at the top of her class.
But when the district recalculated rankings shortly after graduation, a June 12 transcript read that Brannon was number 3 in her class and not number 1.
The Brannon family said the timing could not have been worse.
In Texas, any student who graduates as valedictorian from a school accredited by the Texas Education Agency can get their first year of tuition waived at a public college or university in the state. That’s something Brannon could no longer count on. The Brannon family recently bought a new house, anticipating that they wouldn’t have to pay for their daughter’s first year of college.
Brannon was accepted and planned to attend the University of Texas. The average annual cost at the UT sits around $25,000.
Brannon’s mom, Samantha, feared her family may not have that kind of cash.
“To me it was just very troubling at the time, I didn’t know what I was going to do and how I was going to handle it,” Samantha Brannon said.
“The reality set in that there was a possibility that she wasn’t going to be able to go to UT.”
After WFAA initially reported the story, Brannon’s tale of misfortune quickly went viral. But, a GoFundMe to help the family pay for tuition did as well.
“For two weeks it was kind of unreal,” Samantha Brannon said. “To see that account, move and grow every day at such a rapid pace was truly a blessing.”
Destiny set a goal of $25,000 but ended up raising over $40,000.
They’ll be left with about $39,000 after GoFundMe takes a percentage of the funds raised. Destiny said she plans to put it all towards school.
“I never got tired of writing ‘thank you’ messages because people never got tired of giving,” Destiny Brannon said.
“Even though it was a bad experience, it turned out good. God had other plans and it worked out.”