Camille Sturdivant, a former student in the Blue Valley School District, recently sued the district over allegations that she was prevented from performing with her high school’s dance team because her “skin was ‘too dark’ and would clash with the color of the team’s costumes.”
Earlier this week, an African American student in the Blue Valley School District filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Kansas school district, claiming she was prohibited from performing with her “high school’s dance team after being told her skin was ‘too dark’ and would clash with the color of the team’s costumes.” Additionally, the student, Camille Sturdivant, argues she was “subjected to racial discrimination and ostracized after she complained about how she was treated in the Blue Valley School District.”
In May 2018, Sturdivant graduated from Blue Valley Northwest High School. During her time as a student, she was one of two African American students on the Dazzlers dance team, which had a total of 14 students. The suit argues “the team’s choreographer made the comments about her dark skin in 2017, and that the team’s coach was fired because of racial comments she made about Sturdivant in text messages with the choreographer.”
Earlier this month, the district responded
to the allegations in the suit and issued a statement confirming that Sturdivant did indeed “showed the principal the text messages and that the coach’s employment ended the next day.” While it didn’t address the other allegations, it did say, “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 regard to the text messages, Sturdivant claims she saw text messages between her coach and the team’s choreographer when she was “given the coach’s phone to play music for the team.” According to the suit, the texts “discussed how Sturdivant had been named to the Golden Girls dance team at the University of Missouri for the next year, with the coach and choreographer expressing distaste for the decision.” To make matters worse, the coach “used an expletive when saying she believed Sturdivant was chosen because she was black,” according to the suit.
The text understandably shook the student, who showed the texts to her parents, who then “showed them to the school’s principal, Amy Pressly.” The next day, the coach was fired and she was even allegedly told “she could not be on school property or have contact with Sturdivant or any other member of the dance team.” However, the suit alleges the coach was “seen at the school and with members of the dance team several times.”
Additionally, the suit alleges that Sturdivant and her family were told the team banquet, which was paid for by the parents of the dancers, was canceled. That didn’t stop the fired coach from rounding up the other dancers for a meal on the Country Club Plaza the “same date as the canceled banquet.”
To make matters worse, during the team’s last dance performance, all the dancers, except Sturdivant and the other African American dancer wore ribbons “with their former coach’s initials, CL.” Sturdivant and the other African American student were also “excluded from team photos taken after the event on school property,” according to the suit.
In addition to naming the school district as a defendant, the suit also names a teacher and the “parent of another dancer on the team.” The suit is currently seeking unspecified damages.