Dad Says School Told Daughter She Was Valedictorian — but Took It Back Days Later Due to 'Miscalculation'

Maya Veliz, who was previously announced as valedictorian, found out over a week later she was actually third in her class, her dad tells PEOPLE

<p>Jorge Veliz</p> Maya Veliz

Jorge Veliz

Maya Veliz
  • Maya Veliz, a senior at Blue Ridge High School in Texas, was told she was no longer the school's valedictorian over a ranking "miscalculation." her father tells PEOPLE

  • “She said she feels like the school keeps saying that they respect her and she's a big part of the community, but it makes her feel like she's not,” Jorge Veliz explains

  • The school district said in a statement that "plans have been initiated to ensure that a mistake like this does not take place in the future"

A Texas high school senior learned her valedictorian title was pulled just weeks before graduation due to an apparent ranking miscalculation, according to her father.

Instead of graduating at the top of her class, Maya Veliz, a student at Blue Ridge High School, found out she was ranked third, her father, Jorge Veliz, tells PEOPLE in an interview on Friday, April 10.

Jorge says that the school told his daughter on March 28 that she would be her class valedictorian. “She was handed her transcript where it said she was number one along with her GPA,” he says of that special moment.

Then on April 8, Jorge and his wife received a phone call from the school’s principal. “He's like, ‘Well, there was a miscalculation on Maya's GPA, which now [means] she will no longer be number one. She'll be number three,’ “ he recalls.

Related: Florida Mom of 7 Graduates College as Class Valedictorian with Perfect GPA: 'Incredibly Honored'

The update from the principal prompted questions for the family.

Jorge says that after Maya transferred from another school in Frisco as a junior in 2022, the family had been in touch with Maya’s school counselor to make sure that her grades were correct.

<p>Jorge Veliz</p> Maya Veliz

Jorge Veliz

Maya Veliz

“[The counselor] had told us, ‘Oh, don't worry. Maya's on the good road. The only way that I can foresee Maya not being valedictorian is if Maya fails her courses completely,’ " her father says, noting that's not what happened here.

“She hasn't failed anything. She's been taking dual credits, AP honors and anything that's available," he adds. "We even asked if it was necessary for her to take any extra courses, and [the counselor] told her, ‘No, everything is good.’ “

Related: Twin Brothers Named High School Valedictorian and Salutatorian After Sister Graduated at Top of Her Class

However, according to Jorge, per a Blue Ridge Independent School District policy that had been in place since 2017, Maya wouldn’t be given credit for some of the courses she took at her previous school prior to her transfer to Blue Ridge High “because they weren't offered to the students in that school district."

"Well, some of those courses are in the [Blue Ridge ISD] catalog, but they're saying that they don't have any teachers to teach [them]," he claims. "So they kind of contradicted themselves on the policy.”

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When asked about the miscalculation and the school's policy, the district told ABC affiliate WFAA that "Blue Ridge ISD has investigated this private student matter and communicated with the parents. The district reviews academic achievement, grade calculations, and class rank during this time period each year in accordance with applicable state law and board policies EIC and EIC Local."

"Miscalculations were originally made when finalizing GPA and Class Rank; then corrected to ensure compliance with both of those board policies. All students affected have been notified," the district continued.

They added that "plans have been initiated to ensure that a mistake like this does not take place in the future. Any further specific student information cannot be discussed pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act."

PEOPLE has reached out to the school district as well as Blue Ridge High's principal for comment.

<p>Jorge Veliz</p> Maya Veliz

Jorge Veliz

Maya Veliz

In an earlier interview with WFAA, Maya said that learning the news so close to graduation was simply "gut-wrenching."

Her dad wonders why that issue was brought up even after the school initially said that Maya was selected as valedictorian. He also says there has been a lack of transparency and the family has hired an advocate to help them look into the matter.

“There's conflicting information about what triggered the reevaluation of the transcripts,” he tells PEOPLE.

As for how his daughter has been feeling since the news, Jorge says that Maya is mad and feels let down by the school.

“She's worked her butt off,” he says. “She used to be a dancer, and she put that dream to the side to dedicate her time to school because she knew it was going to be a hard task managing both."

Now, he says she's asked herself if it was all really worth it.

Related: Jimmy Kimmel Lets Valedictorian Finish Speech After Being Cut Off at Graduation for Criticizing School

There are also questions about what her next year at college will look like.

Jorge said that Maya accepted an offer to attend the University of Texas with the understanding that her first year at the state school would be tuition-free as a reward for being named valedictorian. “We [as her parents] know how draining school loans can be,” he says. “That's one of the reasons why she selected to go there.’ ”

As for the ceremony itself, Maya won't be attending — nor will her relatives, including those from other parts of the country, as well as Guatemala and Switzerland, who had already made hotel reservations.

“She said she feels like the school keeps saying that they respect her and she's a big part of the community, but it makes her feel like she's not,” her dad explains. “So she said that she'd rather not go and have them deal with explaining why she's not there."

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