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Expelled Students Win Lawsuit Over Misinterpreted Acne Mask Incident

After a tumultuous legal battle spanning seven years, two former California high school students have emerged victorious, winning a substantial sum of money as a result of their expulsion over allegations of "blackface."

The saga began in 2020 when these students, identified only as AH and HH, found themselves at the center of a controversy that led to their expulsion from St. Francis High School in Mountain View. A photo circulated online depicted them with darkened faces, sparking outrage and accusations of racial insensitivity.

However, the truth behind the image was far from malicious. The students had been utilizing a facial mask for acne treatment, unaware of the firestorm it would ignite. Yet, amidst the backdrop of racial tensions gripping the nation in 2020, the school swiftly moved to expel them without proper dialogue or investigation.

Faced with expulsion or voluntary withdrawal, the students chose the former, setting the stage for a protracted legal battle waged by their families. Seeking justice, they filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging a lack of due process and demanding $20 million in damages.

After years of legal wrangling, a Santa Clara County jury delivered a verdict in favor of the students, ruling that they had indeed been denied a fair process. St. Francis High School was ordered to pay each student $500,000 in compensation, alongside a combined $70,000 in refunded tuition fees.

The supposed "blackface" turned out to be nothing more than a harmless green facial mask, a fact that underscored the misunderstanding that had fueled their expulsion.

For the families of AH and HH, the verdict was not just a financial victory but a vindication of their sons' innocence. They expressed gratitude to the jury and the court for helping to clear their names, though their quest for damages related to defamation went unheeded.

While the families celebrated their hard-fought triumph, St. Francis High School voiced disagreement with the jury's decision, hinting at a possible appeal, prolonging a legal saga that had already stretched on for years.

What emerged from this legal quagmire was a reaffirmation of the importance of fair process and the consequences of rushing to judgment in the face of controversy.

Written by Staff Reports

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