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The high school valedictorian who filed a $2.7 million lawsuit last May to prevent her school from appointing a second student to share her valedictory honors has settled out of court with her New Jersey school district.
The settlement, reached nearly three weeks ago, leaves Blair Hornstine with $60,000—$45,000 of which will pay her legal fees, according to a joint statement released by Hornstine and the Moorestown, N.J., Board of Education.
The Moorestown school board settled because of the “continued expense and distraction of further litigation,” board president Cyndy Wulfsberg said in a statement.
Wulfsberg had previously told The Crimson that meeting Hornstine’s request of $2.7 million would have stretched the school board’s resources thin.
“It would be impossible for us to pay that kind of money and not have it affect the school district,” she said. “We’re trying to prepare for next year, and we’re preparing for legal issues instead.”
The lawsuit brought Hornstine notoriety but eventually cost her Harvard admission.
Hornstine had planned to come to Cambridge this week as a member of the Class of 2007, but Harvard rescinded her admission over the summer after a local newspaper reported that she “misused sources” in five pieces she wrote for the paper.
The issue at the center of Hornstine’s lawsuit was her high school’s decision to force her to share the title of valedictorian with a fellow student—Kenneth S. Mirkin ’07. Classified as disabled, Hornstine took most of her high school classes from private tutors outside of school. School officials argued that Hornstine’s A-plus grades were won from a skewed playing field.
But a federal court judge disagreed in a June ruling, saying that “Ms. Hornstine earned her distinction as the top student in her class in spite of, not because of, her disability.” As a result, Hornstine was named the sole valedictorian at a June graduation she declined to attend.
The suit was nevertheless ridiculed by many in her hometown and at Harvard, where thousands of students signed an online petition to have Hornstine’s admission to the College rescinded.
With Harvard no longer an option, it is unclear where Hornstine will spend what should have been her first year of college. Hornstine had also been accepted to Princeton, Duke, Stanford and Cornell universities, but it’s too late for her to enter those freshman classes, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this summer.
—Staff writer Elizabeth W. Green can be reached at email@example.com.
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