A Black high school student in Kansas is suing her school for hiring a racist dance coach and enabling her behavior.
The Root reports Camille Sturdivant has filed a lawsuit against her former high school, a teacher, the principal and the former dance coach at the high school. Documents obtained by The Root reportedly show allegations that show a history of racist incidents by teachers and staff at the school.
In 2017, Sturdivant was a senior at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, Kan. She had made the dance team her sophomore, junior and senior year, and was reportedly one of only two black students on the 14-member squad.
According to The Root, as the team had summer rehursals to prepare for the upcoming school year, Sturdivant claims that the team’s choreographer, Kevin Murakami, told her that she couldn’t perform the contemporary dance with the team. Murakami reportedly told Sturdivant that the color of her skin clashed with the color of the uniforms. Murakami added that Sturdivant’s darker skin would cause the audience to look at her and not the other dancers.
According to Sturdivant’s lawsuit, the choreographer did this “on behalf of and in conjunction with” Carley Fine, who served as the (and the lawsuit reportedly says this) “Caucasian Coach of the Dazzlers.”
When Sturdivant’s parents met with the principal regarding the dance coach’s actions, the principal told the parents that Coach Fine did nothing wrong and it is within her rights as a coach to pick whomever she wanted for dance routines.
Sturdivant decided to remain on the team.
Later that year, Sturdivant found out that not only been accepted to the University of Missouri but that she also made the university’s dance team, the Golden Girls. She shared the news with her team and the “Caucasian Coach,” and they reportedly seemed happy for her.
But days later, Coach Fine handed Sturdivant her phone to play some music for dance practice and while trying to decide on a song, Sturdivant noticed a few text messages between Coach Fine and Murakami about a white student who didn’t make the Missouri Golden Girls:
Murakami: I can’t believe Maggie didn’t make it again. I’m heart broken.
Fine: AND CAMILLE (Sturdivant) MADE MENS. I can’t talk about it.
Murakami: THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. I’m so mad.”
Fine: It actually makes my stomach hurt.
Murakami: haha (emoji)
Fine: Bc she’s fucking black. I hate that
Murakami: me too.
“Sturdivant was sickened,” according to the lawsuit.
Sturdivant’s parents took screenshots of the racist text messages to the principal. Fine was reportedly fired, banned from campus and barred from contacting Sturdivant.
But, what really happened was that the Coach kept working with the team off of school grounds and the team just excluded Sturdivant from activities. They reportedly had pizza parties without her, and an entire team banquet that they told Sturdivant and her parents was canceled, according to the suit.
One parent reportedly told other parents that Coach Fine was fired for saying “something racial to Camille (Sturdivant), but it was blown out of proportion.”
Sturdivant alleges that her exclusion and discrimination was partially enabled by another teammate’s parent, Katie Porter, who is defined as a (again, it’s literally in the documents) “Caucasian third-grade teacher at Cottonwood Elementary.” Sturdivant’s lawsuit says that, as an employee of the school district, Porter is also liable for damages.
Sturdivant has since graduated but the suit says Sturdivant “continues to suffer from great pain of mind, shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, degradation, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, missed educational opportunities, humiliation, and pain and suffering.”
Read the full complaint below: