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    Teens Awarded $1 Million After Catholic School Expulsion for “Blackface”

    From Acne Masks to Million Dollar Verdict: California Teens Exonerated in Blackface Fiasco

    The jury in California handed down a ruling that will resonate far and wide, awarding two previous students of Saint Francis High School in Mountain View $1 million. Until a viral picture was uploaded and a colossal blunder was made, the lawsuit had become a flashpoint for a conversation about racial abuse and due process.

    A firestorm erupted three years ago when a picture of two teenagers wearing dark green acne masks went viral. Misinterpreted as blackface by some school community members, the mistake led to overwhelming pressure against the boys that ended in their exodus from the prestigious Catholic institution.

    The incident resulted in numerous criticisms against Principal Katie Teekell and the school administration, with many stating that not enough people had investigated the incident. The students said there was no racist intent, instead stating that both impersonating gorillas and wearing the facial mask were widespread teenage issues. But when the school reacted, it was tough and unjust, and the teens felt left out.

    As a result, outrage associated with open racially motivated conflicts and police violence, including the death of George Floyd, continued to influence the increasing misunderstanding of the photograph. Finally, an innocent meme was made in poor taste, adding more feelings of anger and frustration among the students, alumni, and parents.

    Nevertheless, regardless of the external negative interpretation, the families did not retreat and filed the statement in 2020. They wanted to receive the proper justice for A.H. and H.H., and believed that Saint Francis High School violated the oral contract and offer due process. Even though the track included the claim to for $20 million, the jury of Santa Clara County awarded 1 million and the tuition.

    The jury’s answer sends a strong signal. This is not a matter of the teenagers’ intentions; rather, it is the action of the school. In this specific case, although nobody was harmed or threatened with a dangerous weapon, the decision is particularly important since the school did not seem to investigate the event before punishing the students who did not inspire the struggle anyway.

    A thorough investigation and transparent and fair discussions are good solutions to any serious, racial issue. Saint Francis High School responded to the jury’s verdict with a statement saying that they disagree with what the juror found to be the disciplinary process’ fair decision. They are looking into legal opportunities as soon as possible.

    The case is a somber example of the chain of events that can be set off by a simple miscommunication. It shows why a deep investigation is crucial before a decision that could potentially alter a student’s life is made. In the time of social media and heightened sensitivity concerning race, the key to avoid unfortunate incidents is for educational institutions to be open and committed to the fair investigative processes.

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