HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Battle is not the way Aaron Lassmann hoped to spend the final month of his stellar High School career - a four year stint which included top academic rank in his class for all but the very final semester.
That's when Clear Springs High School allowed a student who had immigrated from China to elevate from the class below Aaron's and displace him as Valedictorian.
"No, she did not win fair and square. She manipulated the system and took away Mr. Lassmann's
rightful place as number one in this class," said Chris Tritico, Lassmann's attorney.
Tritico and Lassmann's family contend Clear Creek ISD colluded with the younger student by first allowing her to take junior and senior courses simultaneously and then looking the other way when she failed to complete on-line classes by a District imposed deadline. Each is an alleged violation of district policy.
"They participated in the scam to let this young lady takeover the valedictorian position," said Tritico.
Instead of acknowledging any mistakes, Clear Creek ISD's Board of Trustees changed the policies retroactively in February and the District has since claimed that "The policy revisions apply to Honor Graduate Status, not valedictorian eligibility, and were intended to remove an outdated requirement. As a firm position, this school district denies any allegation of changing policy or changing a student record in order to give one student an advantage over another student."
But a growing number of parents and students aren't buying it.
"They have quickly picked up on the fact that policies have been broken and people are horrified," said Gerrie Hazel, mother of students at Clear Springs High.
Hazel felt strongly enough to start an on-line petition. So far, it's drawn more than 1,500 signatures in support of reinstating Lassmann as valedictorian over the younger student who CCISD now claims was always a member of the 2016 class, just never ranked within it.
"We have never heard any real clear acceptable answer to that question," said Hazel.
After the rejection of three separate appeals, Aaron Lassmann's last hope is the School Board which will make the final call after a hearing May 23rd.
"What's happening at this high school is wrong and the board needs to fix it," said Tritico.
Fox 26 reached out to the entire Clear Creek ISD School Board, but a District spokesperson said Trustees must refrain from comment until the May 23rd hearing.
Tritico says failure to graduate as valedictorian will deny Lassmann a full year's worth of tuition at the University of Texas at Austin where he will attend in the Fall.
The petition in support of Lassmann and accompanying comments can be found here.