Former High School Students Win $1 Million Lawsuit Over Acne Mask Photo Controversy

Two former students of Saint Francis High School in Mountain View, California, have been awarded $1 million and tuition reimbursements by a Northern California jury after being pushed out by administrators over alleged “blackface” photos, which were later revealed to be images of the boys wearing acne facemasks. 

The jury found that the school had breached an oral contract and failed to provide due process to the students before expelling them.

The lawsuit, filed in 2020, centered around a photo taken in August 2017, in which a boy identified as A.H. wore a green acne facemask purchased by his mother and took a bathroom selfie with another boy wearing a white acne facemask. The following day, A.H., a friend identified as H.H., and a third boy labeled as Minor III, all put on the green acne facemask and took a picture of themselves.

Despite the boys’ claims that the photo had been taken as a joke and not out of racial animosity, the image went viral, leading to allegations that they had taken the photo intending to portray blackface. The students’ families expressed gratitude to the jury for the verdict, stating that the sacrifice was worth it to clear their boys’ names.

Saint Francis officials disagreed with the jury’s conclusion regarding the fairness of their disciplinary review process and stated that they are exploring legal options, including an appeal.

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