Brooksville, Florida - How often has one heard, "Before signing anything, read the fine print"? The same can be said for public officials; before voting on anything, read it and read all of it.

Some Hernando School Board members say they failed to do that when they voted last summer to eliminate the valedictorian and salutatorian, starting with the current freshman class.

Some students say they'd pay the price for the board not doing its homework.

"You have valedictorian [as] number one and salutatorian [as] number two, duh!" says Lane Whitaker, ninth grader at Hernando High School. Lane says the class ranking is a tradition.

And it's a tradition other freshmen at Hernando High School want to keep.

"That shows your academics, your opportunity to get to college and start your life," saidJohn Budrovic also a ninthgrader.

Except the Class of 2016 will not have a valedictorian or salutatorian after the Hernando School Board voted to eliminate this designation, but did they mean to do this? Several board members say: "No."

"Yes, I do want to reinstate it," saidHernando School Board member Dianne Bonfield.

Yet last year, the board voted five to zero to eliminate this distinction based on a committee's recommendation... a recommendation Bonfield said they did not make clear to the board.

"We need to figure out where the communication breakdown was, and why the board was not informed," Bonfield said. "I can't understand this [but] we will get to the bottom of it."

And when 10 News asked Bonfield, "Isn't it up to the board to read everything that is put before them before voting on it?" she told us, " Yes, I'm sorry. I missed it. I missed it. I missed it... and for that, I am truly sorry."

Bonfield is not alone. Hernando School superintendent Bryan Blavatt said, "To be honest, I'm guilty as anyone. I didn't notice it excluded valedictorian and salutatorians. I thought this was a way to recognize more kids, not less."

Blavatt said district officials should have done a better job briefing, or "red lining" the information for the board.

According to Blavatt, the change to the high school handbook included recognizing the top 10 percent of honor students through the cum laude and summa cum laude distinctions, like colleges do.

"I'm a traditionalist. I think you should acknowledge the valedictorian and salutatorian," he told us. "I think the board feels that way, and we will straighten it out."

The committee that made the recommendation -- which included principals -- said the competition to be number one in the class is sometimes not healthy, and other top performing students should be recognized.

Regardless, the board will be taking this controversial issue that is heating up to Tuesday's workshop.

Follow 10 News Reporter Isabel Mascarenas on twitter @IzzyMascarenas

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