Expelled students win $1 million for 'blackface' that wasn't blackface

 May 7, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

An announcement from a prominent legal team reveals that a $1 million verdict in a fight over the alleged wrongful expulsion of two students from St. Francis High School in California means that schools now are on notice to provide "fair procedures" to students in disciplinary actions.

"This case is significant not only for our clients but for its groundbreaking effect on all private high schools in California, which are now legally required to provide fair procedure to students before punishing or expelling them," charged Krista Boughman, of the Dhillon Law Group that fought the case.

"The jury rightly confirmed that St. Francis High School's procedures were unfair to our clients and that the school is not above the law."

The fight had an odd origination.

The legal team said the two students, in solidarity with a friend who was instructed by a doctor to use an acne-fighting face mask, also wore the medication.

A photograph was taken. Then several years later, that surfaced, and school officials charged they were in "blackface."

The legal team noted, "The students, who were minors at the time, became the center of a controversy due to a photograph of them wearing green acne facemasks. The photo, which was taken three years earlier, was misinterpreted by the school as 'blackface' in June 2020, amidst heightened racial tensions and unrelated racist incidents within the school community. St. Francis expelled the boys within 24 hours, without considering their evidence or offering any hearing."

The Dhillon team explained that protections previously offered to university students in the state now, because of the precedent, are required for high-school students.

"The jury’s verdict finally cleared our clients’ names after four long years of repeated personal attacks from St. Francis High School. Schools are supposed to protect and nurture children, not sacrifice them when it is convenient for public relations purposes," said Dhillon Law Group counsel, Karin Sweigart.

The students have been identified in reports only as H.H. and A.H.

The dispute developed just as the nation was in an uproar, and charges of racism were everywhere, following the death of George Floyd.

The school initially told the family's lawyer, "Your clients, or their friends, are responsible for the posting of the photograph on social media and the resultant publicity and unfortunate consequences."

The boys' family, in a statement, said the fight was over the school's assumption of their guilt "without giving a child the opportunity to show their innocence."

"We would never wish the pain, humiliation, and suffering St. Francis has inflicted on our families on anyone, but we are thankful that the jury has spoken, and vindicated our boys, and forced St. Francis to finally take responsibility for their repeated personal attacks on the boys."

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