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Two former California high school students were awarded $1 million and tuition reimbursement after they said they were forced to withdraw from the school in 2020 for wearing acne masks that were interpreted as”blackface.” The students, now 21 years old, sued Saint Francis High School (SFHS) for breach of contract, defamation, and violating their legal rights. The jury awarded each former student $500,000 and tuition reimbursement totaling $70,000.

The picture that caused the controversy showed the boys wearing green acne masks, which were misconstrued as blackface. The boys had applied the masks for acne treatment and thought they looked silly, so they took a photograph. The misunderstanding occurred because the masks turned dark green as they dried on their faces. Despite the boys’ innocence, they were punished amid racially charged scandals at the school.

The accusations of blackface against the boys emerged during a period of racially charged incidents at SFHS. Despite the boys having nothing to do with these incidents, they were made into scapegoats and forced to withdraw from the school. The decision to remove them was based on optics rather than intent, as the school prioritized its reputation over the well-being of its students.

The boys and their families faced significant repercussions as a result of the false accusations. The boys had to move out of town, putting their education, athletics, and college prospects in jeopardy. The families are relieved that justice was served through the jury’s verdict, clearing their names and highlighting the importance of fair procedures in school disciplinary actions.

SFHS expressed gratitude for the jury’s verdict, which rejected the primary claims of defamation and breach of contract. The school is exploring legal options, including an appeal, as they disagree with the jury’s conclusion regarding the fairness of the disciplinary review process. SFHS is committed to upholding its values rooted in hope, respect, integrity, and family while focusing on educating its student body.

The lawsuit against SFHS has opened up conversations about fair procedures in private high schools in California. The verdict in favor of the former students highlights the importance of providing students with due process before any punitive actions are taken. The case serves as a reminder that schools are not above the law and must prioritize the well-being and rights of their students.

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