The parents of a 13-year-old student, identified as J.A. for privacy protection, from a middle school in California are challenging the school’s decision to suspend their child. According to them, the true instance of racism is being displayed by the school administrators and not their son. They voiced concerns over the lack of a proper investigation into the incident. The boy had painted his cheeks and chin to mimic his favorite football stars during an Oct. 13 game, insisting it was just eye paint.
No one raised any objections during the game, even the security personnel who seemingly encouraged him to apply more. J.A. declared that it was just another regular football match, and he carried out the activity of painting his face as he had done on numerous past occasions. However, the school’s lack of response changed a week after the game when he was summoned into principal’s office.
The principal at Muirlands Middle School notified J.A. and his parents that he would be suspended for two days based on his actions at the game. This incident led J.A.’s parents, now plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the San Diego Unified School District, to defend their son saying that he was merely using face paint as a show of support for the game.
The disciplinary notice issued by the school accused J.A. of painting his face black during the football game, framing it as an offensive action with harmful intent. Principal Jeff Luna reportedly saw the act as offensive since Morse High School, the opponent in the game and a predominantly Black school, might interpret it as such, this was reported by Cal Coast News.
The family’s attorney, Karin Sweigart, represents a different perspective in the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of California. She insists that J.A. was merely imitating the ‘eye black warrior paint’ that athletes frequently use during games as an anti-glare measure and as a platform for personal messages.
J.A.’s father, Daniel Ameduri, criticized the lack of a thorough investigation. He argues that the label of a ‘hate crime’ imposed on a harmless activity like attending a game and cheering for a team is a preposterous distortion. He also expressed that the concept of blackface was unknown to his son prior to this incident, thus formulating an argument around the innocence of his action.
The boy’s lawyers have also argued previously that J.A.’s appearance was mimicking the style of eye black worn by athletes, stating that while it was originally meant to reduce glare, it has now become a canvas for personal messages and imagery. They differentiate it from blackface, which is a dark makeup worn with the intention to mimic and often mock the appearance of black people which was not the intent here.
The lawsuit seeks to remove the suspension from the boy’s school record. J.A.’s parents are arguing that his First Amendment right to free speech was violated and that the student was denied due process. They believe there is a need to challenge these actions and stand up for their son’s rights.
The family is not only suing the school district but also the individuals they believe were directly involved in the decision-making process. This includes the principal, the superintendent, and anyone else who supported the decision to suspend their son. The family’s attorney, Sweigart, outlined their determination to overturn what they deem as an outrageous decision by the principal.
The school suspension, the Centre for American Liberty argues, could potentially harm J.A.’s prospects for future educational endeavors and career opportunities. They believe that the suspension, if not expunged, might affect his acceptance into prestigious high schools, colleges, and certain professions. The potential repercussions that J.A. could face underscore the gravity of the situation.
As outlined on the Center for American Liberty’s website, the consequences are not merely immediate but may potentially impact J.A.’s long-term future. They highlighted the potential damage done to his future and echoed the family’s sentiment of defending his rights. The website also stressed the importance of upholding the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in the face of ‘cancel culture’.
Principal Luna’s stance on the face paint, particularly his opinion of it being offensive because Morse High School has a largely black student body, has also been highlighted. The Center for American Liberty stresses the importance of maintaining civil liberties and the right to a fair trial, in light of the principal’s comments.
Efforts have been made to reach out to the San Diego Unified School District and Principal Luna for comments regarding the situation and the lawsuit by the Post. However, as of now, a response is yet to be received. It remains to be seen how this lawsuit will impact the district’s policies and the outcome for J.A. and his family.