High school student who was barred from performing with dance team because she was 'too dark' sues school for discrimination
A high school student is suing a high school district for discrimination after claims that she was told her skin was 'too dark' for her to perform with the school's dance team.
Camille Sturdivant revealed that she was allegedly barred from taking part in performances at the Blue Valley Northwest High School in Kansas City as her skin tone 'clashed' with the costumes. She was only one of two African American members on the 'Dazzles' dance team which has a total of 14 members.
The team's choreographer Kevin Murakami acted "on behalf of and in conjunction with" the team's coach Carley Fine to intentionally keep Camille from performing in a dance. According to a lawsuit filed last month, they allegedly said: "her skin was too dark and the audience would look at her and not the other dancers."
In the suit, Camille claims that the choreographer further added that her skin color "clashed with the color of the costumes" in 2017. While meeting the principal Amy Murphy Pressly, Camille's parents were told that coach Carley could "pick whoever she wanted to perform in the dances."
When Camille was accepted into the University of Missouri and won a place on the school's Golden Girls dance team, she allegedly came across mean texts between choreographer Kevin and Carley strongly criticizing her selection. According to court documents, Kevin wrote, "THAT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. I'm so mad."
Carley allegedly responded, "It actually makes my stomach hurt. Bc she's f****** black. I hate that." Camille found the messages when she was using Carley's cell phone to play music for the dance team. As reported by Kansas City Star, she was absolutely 'sickened' by what she found and showed her parents the nasty exchange.
She also showed the message to the school principal who fired Carley the very next day. As per court papers, Carley was told that she was not allowed to be on school property or have any sort of contact with either Camille or the other dancers. However, Camille claims that the former coach was spotted at the school on several occasions.
The school principal then told Camille's parents that a team dinner which all the parents had paid for had been canceled. Later, Camille found out that Carley had attended a dinner with the other dancers on the same evening as the canceled banquet. The court papers also state that both Camille and the other African American student were excluded from team photos that were clicked post the final dance performance last year.
The Blue Valley Unified School District released a statement which said, "Respectful and meaningful relationships between staff and students are at the heart of Blue Valley's culture. Discrimination of any kind has no place here. The District expects staff to treat all students with respect at all times, and any report that this expectation has not been fulfilled is taken very seriously."
"As stated in the Complaint, on May 1, 2018, Mrs. Sturdivant showed Dr. Pressly the text message between Mr. Murakami and Ms. Fine. Ms. Fine's employment with the District was separated the following day on May 2, 2018," the statement added.