Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Teens kicked out of elite Catholic school for ‘blackface’ awarded $1m by jury after proving it was just acne mask

Two teens kicked out of their elite California Catholic school while falsely accused of wearing blackface have been jointly awarded more than US$1 million (A$1.5 million) after proving it was just a green acne face mask.

The then-students at Saint Francis High School in Mountain View were just 14 when they took a photo during a sleepover in 2017 of them wearing the treatment in solidarity with a friend suffering from severe acne, their lawsuit said, reports the New York Post.

The treatment, bought by one of the boy’s mums, was light green when applied and turned dark green once dry.

Their “innocent” selfie then went viral three years later when it was found and widely shared during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests following the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

A Santa Clara County jury agreed this week that the school breached an oral contract and did not give them due process before expelling them in 2020, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The students, identified only as A.H. and H.H. in the lawsuit, were awarded $500,000 (A$757,000) each and will have their $70,000 (A$106,000) tuition reimbursed.

“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,” said Krista Baughman, one of the attorneys for the students.

“The jury rightly confirmed that Saint Francis High School’s procedures were unfair to our clients and that the school is not above the law.”

The students proved that they used a face mask for acne and didn’t do blackface. Picture: Superior Court of California

The students proved that they used a face mask for acne and didn’t do blackface. Picture: Superior Court of California

In a statement, A.H.’s family said: “We want to sincerely thank the jury and the court system for helping our boys and our families find justice, which now paves the way for their names to be cleared for things they never did.”

he lawsuit had initially sought $20 million (A$30 million). The jury rejected some of the boys’ claims, including defamation and violation of free speech.

Representatives for the school said they “respectfully disagree” with the jury’s decision and are “exploring legal options,” including an appeal.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and was reproduced with permission.

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