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Published on January 19, 2024
San Diego Family Sues School District, Claiming Son Wrongly Accused of Blackface at La Jolla Football GameSource: Google Street View

A San Diego family is taking legal action against the San Diego Unified School District after their son, a 13-year-old middle school student, faced allegations of wearing blackface during a La Jolla High School football game, ABC 10News reported. The student, identified only as J.A. in court documents, has since been suspended and banned from district sporting events.

At the October 13th game, J.A. painted his face with eye black, emulating athletes and showing team spirit, a common scene in stands across America. But following an incident wherein complaints claimed someone wore blackface and shouted "racial stuff," school officials pointed the finger at J.A., branding his actions "hate violence," according to a lawsuit cited by Liberty Center. This characterization came despite proof from J.A.'s parents aiming to demonstrate their son's innocence, and no, correlation between him and the shouted slurs.

"For him to have this on his record and to have teachers potentially believing this about him, administrators believing this about him, is heartbreaking to him," Karin Sweigart, the attorney representing J.A.'s case, told ABC 10News. "He’s been in counseling because of it." The lawsuit emphasizes that J.A.'s intention was solely to show support for the football team, not to engage in a racist act.

The serious implications of the suspension for a supposed hate crime could shadow J.A.'s future educational and career opportunities. Per the complaint, his family demands the removal of the suspension from his record and the lifting of the ban from sporting events. School officials have not publicly responded to these allegations. Meanwhile, the narrative from some corners has framed the school district's actions as an overzealous application of so-called "cancel culture" principles, with J.A. inadvertently trapped in the crossfire.