A Black student in Kansas is suing her former school district after her ex high school dance coaches told her she couldn’t perform with the rest of the team because her skin was “too dark,” according to a lawsuit.
Camille Sturdivant filed the suit against the Blue Valley School District, alleging she experienced racial discrimination as a student at Blue Valley Northwest High School, the Kansas City Star reported.
Sturdivant, who graduated from the school in May 2018, said she was one of two Black students on the dance team. During her time on the team, Sturdivant says, she was ostracized from team events after reporting the incidents of racism.
The suit alleges the team’s choreographer, Kevin Murakami, told Sturdivant her dark skin would be a distraction during the performance and “the audience would look at her and not the other dancers.”
“Murakami also told Sturdivant that her skin color clashed with the color of the costumes,” the suit said.
Before she graduated, Sturdivant was using former coach Carley Fine’s phone to play music when she discovered alarming messages about her between the two coaches.
In the alleged text messages, Fine and Murakami said they were in disbelief that Sturdivant was offered a spot on the University of Missouri dance team.
“THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I’m so mad,” Murakami wrote, according to the suit.
“It actually makes my stomach hurt,” Fine allegedly replied. “Bc she’s f–king black. I hate that.”
The school district released a statement Wednesday saying the texts were reported to administrators and Fine left her job the next day.
“Respectful and meaningful relationships between staff and students are at the heart of Blue Valley’s culture,” school officials said. “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.”
In a statement to HuffPost, Fine said the lawsuit includes a number of false and/or misleading accusations but did not go into detail at the advice of her counsel.
“The evidence will clear up so many of the lingering questions and shocking allegations surrounding this lawsuit, and I look forward to that,” Fine stated.
Although Fine was fired and ordered to stay away from the school’s students, the coach continued to participate in dance team events, where Sturdivant was excluded, the lawsuit says.
In one instance, Sturdivant was told a scheduled team dinner was canceled. Later on, a team photo with Fine was posted without Sturdivant and the other Black dancer on the team.
The lawsuit, which names the school district, the school’s principal, Amy Pressly, Fine and a parent of one of the team’s dancers as defendants, seeks a trial by jury.
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