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White Villa Duchesne student and parents accuse school of discrimination

White Villa Duchesne student and parents accuse school of discrimination


ST. LOUIS COUNTY — A white senior at Villa Duchesne and her parents say school officials discriminated against her by siding with Black students who called her a racist, accused her of saying “Black lives do not matter” in class, and threatened to attack her because of it.

The private Catholic school in Frontenac discriminates against white students “by encouraging and facilitating race-based aggression” by Black students, unfairly disciplining students based on race and encouraging “the concept that all Caucasians are racist by virtue of being Caucasian,” according to a lawsuit filed against the school Dec. 21 by the 18-year-old student and her parents.

“The goal is to stop the indoctrination of students with this critical race theory and to also make the community aware that even at Catholic parochial schools, this bizarre, racist, anti-racism is being force-fed down the throats of their children,” said their lawyer Mark McCloskey, who gained broad attention last summer because of a confrontation with racial justice protesters marching past his Central West End mansion. McCloskey said his daughter, now 31, is a graduate of Villa.

Critical race theory is defined broadly as an ideology that identifies examples of systemic racism. In September, President Donald Trump’s administration instructed federal agencies to halt racial sensitivity training that included “propaganda of the critical race theory movement.”

A judge granted the family’s request to use the pseudonyms “Daughter Doe, Dad Doe and Mom Doe” in suing Villa, Head of School Michael Baber, Principal Jeannie Steenberge and others.

Alice Dickherber, a spokeswoman for Villa, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Villa is an independent Catholic all-girls school for grades seven through 12.

“We are not addressing this matter publicly,” Dickherber said in an email. “Our primary focus remains on our mission of Sacred Heart education and on our students as we begin the spring semester.”

The student’s lawsuit includes claims that Villa violated school policies by unfairly disciplining her based on race and failing to provide a safe learning environment free of discrimination.

According to the suit, a Black Villa student in October accused the senior of standing up in class Oct. 10, pointing and shouting “Black lives do not matter!”

Three days later, the suit says, the senior reported that the Black student’s “racially charged lie” led other students to call the senior a racist and also prompted physical threats and vandalism at her home. A video recording of the Oct. 10 class for students attending virtually proves she never made the statement about Black lives, according to the suit.

The lawsuit claimed a teacher told her she should “expect to be treated like a racist” because of what the teacher described as a “Blue Lives Matter” sticker on her laptop. The sticker, according to the lawsuit, was the thin blue line flag in support of law enforcement. The suit also claim’s Villa’s principal, Steenberge, called her a racist, adding “that everyone who is white is a racist.”

“Despite permitting students and faculty to wear BLM (Black Lives Matter) insignia on campus, (the plaintiff) was told that she was, in fact, a racist for having what was inaccurately perceived to be a ‘Blue Lives Matter’ sticker on her laptop,” the lawsuit says. One of the Black students said the senior was “the biggest known racist in the school” and “in love with Trump.”

During a second meeting in October involving the senior and school leaders, a dean who is Black and “displays BLM support materials” at school, pressured the senior into declaring she felt safe at school and told her the Black students would not be disciplined for allegedly threatening her, the suit says. The plaintiffs also contend that officials demanded she admit to being a racist “by virtue of being a Caucasian.”

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