Search icon


10th May 2024

Teens expelled for ‘blackface’ photo receive £800k after proving they were wearing acne face mask

Charlie Herbert

Teens expelled for 'blackface' photo get $1m after proving it was face mask

The photo was widely shared during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement

Two teenagers who were expelled from a school over a photo they posted online will be paid $1 million (£800,000) in compensation.

The two students attended Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, California, which is an elite Catholic school.

However, they were both expelled from the institution in 2020 after the three-year-old photo was widely shared online.

The photo, taken in 2017 during a sleepover when the students were just 14, showed the two boys with their friend, with all three of them wearing green acne face masks, the LA Times reports.

But three years later, the photo went viral during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, with the boys accused of wearing ‘blackface.’

Saint Francis High School told the boys they either had to withdraw from school or face expulsion. The boys weren’t offered a hearing and the school didn’t consider any evidence, according to a lawsuit brought forward by the former pupils and their parents.

The suit claimed the photograph was intended to look “silly” as the face masks had initially looked light green, but turned “dark green by the time it dried on their faces.”

The face mask had appeared light green when initially applied but turned dark green once it had dried, the former students and their families claimed in the suit (Superior Court of California)

The pair, identified only as A.H. and H.H. in the lawsuit, had claimed the school was in breach of an oral contract and did not give them due process before expelling them in 2020 for photos that were three years old.

A jury at Santa Clary County court ended up siding with the former students, who will get $500,000 each from the school and also be reimbursed for tuition, which is about $70,000 total.

The families had initially sued the school for $20 million.

The claimants managed to prove they had used a face mask for acne (Superior Court of California)

Krista Baughman, who was one of the attorney’s representing the teenagers, described the ruling as “groundbreaking.”

She said: “This case is significant not only for our clients but for its groundbreaking effect on all private high schools in California, which are now legally required to provide fair procedure to students before punishing or expelling them.

“The jury rightly confirmed that Saint Francis High School’s procedures were unfair to our clients and that the school is not above the law.”

Representatives for Saint Francis said they “respectfully disagree with the jury’s conclusion as to the lesser claim regarding the fairness of our disciplinary review process.” They added that the school was considering appealing the verdict.

In a statement, A.H.’s family said: “We want to sincerely thank the jury and the court system for helping our boys and our families find justice, which now paves the way for their names to be cleared for things they never did.”

Related links:

Businessman rewards boy after he mistook him for a homeless man

Model issues warning after losing both legs to toxic shock

‘I resent my parents for burning through money that should be my inheritance’