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Family sues school after their child was accused of wearing blackface

The parents' complaint argues that their son's intent was to "show spirit" along with many other fans at a high school football game.
Posted at 2:09 PM, Jan 19, 2024

A San Diego family is suing two school district employees after their son was accused of wearing blackface at a football game.

The 13-year-old, being referred to as J.A., is an eighth-grader at Muirlands Middle School. According to the lawsuit against the middle school's principal and the district's superintendent, J.A. attended a La Jolla High School football game on Oct. 13. 

The document explains that "J.A. did not have eye black on his face when he arrived at the Game," but other people in the stands were "wearing eye black or other face paint" and "sharing it with one another and helping one another create styles on their faces."

According to the complaint, roughly an hour and a half after kickoff, J.A. also painted his face, covering most of his cheeks and chin.  

The complaint said the following Wednesday, J.A. was called into his middle school principal's office, where the principal "told J.A. that the high school had received complaints that someone matching his description had worn blackface at the La Jolla football game on Friday night." The lawsuit went on to say there had been complaints that a group had been yelling “racial stuff."

J.A. was suspended from school for two days and banned from attending any of the district's sporting events.

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“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," said Karin Sweigart, the attorney representing J.A.'s case. "You know, he’s been in counseling because of it."

According to the complaint, "J.A.’s intent in having his friend paint Warrior eye black on his face was to show spirit for the football team along with the many other fans in attendance. He was not familiar with the concept of 'blackface.'"

Sweigart says J.A.'s family wants the suspension wiped from his record and his ban from sporting events in the district to be lifted.

Scripps News San Diego reached out to the principal and superintendent for comment but has not received a response.

This story was originally published by Natalie Chuck at Scripps News San Diego.