Things That Matter

A Texas Family Is Suing Their Son’s School After They Forced Him To Color In His Fade With A Sharpie

One of the worst things about public school is the arbitrary way that dress codes are enforced. However, this isn’t just a conversation about skirt length or bra straps infractions. Uniform coding has a history of enforcing rules that violate individual civil rights especially for female students, Black students, and students of color.

Now, a case out of Texas is arguing that this sort of civil liberties violation is what happened to a student in April 2019 at a Houston-area school.

The family of middle school student, Juelz Trice, is suing the Pearland ISD School District for an incident last Spring where administration used permanent marker on the 14-year-old’s scalp.

Twitter / @ajplus

On April 16th, Trice received a new fade but it was cited as a dress code violation the very next day. The middle school student   who is Black was in the cafeteria for breakfast when he was told by the assistant principal, Tony Barcelona, to go to the office because of his haircut. According to the lawsuit, he and Barcelona were met by discipline clerk, Helen Day, and, later, teacher, Jeanette Peterson. There in the office, Trice was given two options: go to in-school suspension for his violation or use a black Sharpie to color his scalp in. Reportedly, Trice worried that in-school suspension would impact his eligibility for the track team so he chose the marker option.

According to the lawsuit, Day then took the black permanent marker and used it to fill in the design of Trice’s fade. Peterson was then asked to pick up another marker and help fill in the middle school student’s scalp. The lawsuit alleges that “They laughed as they took many minutes to color 13-year-old J.T’s scalp which took many days of scrubbing to come off.” Images taken of the boy’s scalp after the fact reveal that the marker made the design far more noticeable.

According to the family’s attorney, there was no attempt to notify Trice’s parents before his scalp was colored in.

Twitter / @mochamomma

The civil rights lawsuit cites the school district as well Barcelona, Peterson and Day as defendants in the claim. According to Randall Kallinen, attorney for the student’s parents, Dante Trice and Angela Washington, the school district has yet to meet with the family. The only thing that has been done to rectify this problem was to change the existing dress code. In May of 2019, after the incident with Trice, the updated code removed restrictions on hairstyles and carvings.

It should be noted that the administrators and teacher involved in the incident did not receive corrective action. In fact, Barcelona, who was a vice-principal at the time, has now been promoted to principal. All three still work at Berry Miller Junior High where the situation occurred.

“I was mad. I was really mad,” Dante Trice said of his son’s ordeal. “I just imagine three people holding him down with a marker against his will.”

In a new conference about the incident, attorney Kallien cited a 2015 Department of Justice study that found that Black students were 143% more likely to be suspended than white students.

Twitter / @MarcelinoKHOU

“We are here today to right this wrong through the court system because apparently, PISD doesn’t care about African American people,” Kallinen claimed in the televised statements.

While Houston has received the title of the most diverse city in America, Pearland where the middle school is located is much less diverse. Of its population, nearly 63% is white and only 17% is Black.

While the lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, that isn’t all it is attempting to fix. Filed in the Southern District of Texas, the suit also requests that the court order school district employees receive racial sensitivity training. Considering this incident, it seems the school could definitely benefit from this.

Local activists have come out in support of Trice and his family, but they have received a lot of encouragement from Twitter as well.

Twitter / @DovieWatson

As this Twitter user expressed, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen alleged racism in school dress codes or from school administrators. In the past, school districts have faced lawsuits over dress codes that declare braids, long hair, and other so-called “ethnic” hairstyles “against the rules.” In these instances, it is usually found that the school district has violated the civil liberties of students.

Some pointed out that instances like these are more like policing than educating.

Twitter / @taylorwestc

A lot is asked of teachers and school administrators. We definitely won’t argue that. However, the number one thing required of them is to teach our young people. When we see stories like these, we have to wonder how much time is being spent educating and how much is being spent policing these kids. When it comes to their hairstyle, it’s best to let the parents and kids take this one.

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A Latina Firefighter in Boston Says the Department Retaliated Against Her When She Reported That She Was Sexually Assaulted by a Colleague

Fierce

A Latina Firefighter in Boston Says the Department Retaliated Against Her When She Reported That She Was Sexually Assaulted by a Colleague

Credit: Screenshot via CBS/WBZ

A former female firefighter was just given a settlement of $3.2 million by the city of Boston for what she characterized as a culture of sexual harassment, shaming, and silencing. Nathalie Fontanez says she was retaliated against by the Boston Fire Department for reporting a sexual assault she experienced at the hands of a colleague.

In 2018, Fontanez says she was sexually assaulted by fellow firefighter David Sanchez.

It all began when Fontanez joined the Boston Fire Department in 2011. The department was looking to hire fluent Spanish speakers, and Fontanez considered the opportunity a “golden ticket”. It was an opportunity for her, a single mom, to provide for her daughter without the assistance of welfare. And, she could prove to her daughter that women can do anything.

But Fontanez’s dream soon turned into a nightmare. After joining the department, she faced an inordinate amount of hazing and harassment because she was a woman and a Latina.

“I’m not a veteran. I’m not a man. I’m a Latin woman. If there was a totem pole, I was at the very bottom,” she explained. “I felt that I had to tolerate anything that came my way, because I was lucky to be there,” she said.

Per Fontanez, the incidents escalated until the day in question when she was assaulted at the firehouse by Sanchez.

After reporting the incident to her superiors, she says that her colleagues turned on her.

In a recent press conference, Fontanez explained the experience in more detail. “Incidents began to escalate and I was then shamed and labeled a trouble-maker,” she said. “The guys that I once relied on for my life’s safety now turned against me.”

While Sanchez was convicted of assault and battery and sentenced to two years of probation, Fontanez says that she was harassed and isolated by her station mates. According to her, the retaliation also included being denied a promotion and being ignored at social events.

“I was often reminded by some of my colleagues that I had taken a job from a man who could have been providing for his family, even though I was a single parent providing for mine,” she said.

Last month, the city settled with Fontanez for $3.2 million. But Fontanez says it’s not about the money–it’s about changing the toxic culture of firehouses. 

“I’m breaking my silence because I believe that women firefighters deserve equal treatment in the Boston Fire Department,” Fontanez said during the news conference. “However, at this point that is the dream, but not the reality, for many women firefighters. The department is overdue for change, and the time for change is now.”

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New Lawsuit Alleges that Alex Rodriguez is Guilty of Embezzlement and Racketeering: ‘He is a serial cheater and liar’

Entertainment

New Lawsuit Alleges that Alex Rodriguez is Guilty of Embezzlement and Racketeering: ‘He is a serial cheater and liar’

Photo via Getty Images

It looks like scandal just can’t stay away from A-Rod. The former Yankees all-star is now facing controversy based off of the claims filed in a lawsuit by his former brother-in-law, Constantine Scurtis.

The lawsuit alleges that Rodriguez is a pathological liar and cheater who embezzled millions of dollars through shady real estate deals.

The lawsuit states: “Defendant Alex Rodriguez, a former Yankees baseball player, is a serial cheater and liar. After cheating on his wife, Cynthia, and lying about his affairs, Alex Rodriguez then lied to and cheated his brother in law in their real estate partnership.”

According to Scurtis, he and Rodriguez formed a real estate partnership around the beginning of A-Rod’s marriage to his sister, Cynthia. The initial deal was that the duo would leverage A-Rod’s star power to attract clients and sales and would get 95% of the profits. Scurtis would get the rest of the profits, including acquisition fees when applicable.

Scurtis says that A-Rod sold their joint company without his consent and without giving him any of the profits.

But per Scurtis, in 2008, around the time that Rodriguez’s marriage to his first wife dissolved, A-Rod abruptly booted Scurtis from the partnership. Scurtis alleges that, up until that point, Rodriguez had previously lied to him and assured him that nothing would change in their business dealings.

The lawsuit also alleges that Rodriguez committed various acts of fraud, including concocting a “scheme to profit off of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ike.”

Hurricane Ike was a natural disaster that resulted in at least 195 deaths and billions of dollars in damage in 2008.

Scurtis says that Rodriguez committed insurance fraud, faking accounting records to claim that his properties sustained significantly more damage than they actually did.

The lawsuit alleges that A-Rod bribed an official who caught wind of the scheme to keep quiet.

“Through their racketeering,” the lawsuit said, “Rodriguez and his co-conspirators have caused Scurtis many millions of dollars in damages.”

Scurtis’s lawyer says that A-Rod will “face a jury on August 2, 2021, to answer claims that he and his co-conspirators engaged in a pattern of racketeering and embezzlement.”

“Scurtis never suspected that the tussle over the day-to-day operation of the business arising from his sister’s divorce would be followed by a systematic and fraudulent effort to eliminate Scurtis’s equity in the venture and strip him of the future financial rewards to which he was rightfully entitled,” says the lawsuit.

It should be noted that this is not the first time that Scurtis has brought a lawsuit against his ex-brother-in-law.

There seems to be no love lost between these two former business partners. Over the years, Scurtis has filed a multiple lawsuits against the Dominican ex-MVP, including a $100 million one in 2015 that included many of the same allegations. It is unclear how that situation ended, but judging by the newest lawsuit, Scurtis’s previous ones have not been successful.

As for A-Rod, he is hitting back at Scurtis’s claims, and filed a countersuit denying the accusations. We guess we’ll just keep our eyes peeled to see how this all turns out.

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