Blaze News investigates: 5th-grade girl accused of wearing blackface for participating in innocent field-day fun

Camille Lamy — a friendly and mature 12-year-old girl living in Austin, Texas — is not a racist, a fact to which friends, teachers, administrators, and even some area attorneys have repeatedly attested. Despite her established record of good character, however, some staff members at her former elementary school claimed that on field day last year, she inadvertently donned blackface, an act that they claimed was racist because of similar actions performed by other people with entirely different motives in entirely different contexts.

Blaze News spoke with Camille and her parents, Jay and Kelley Lamy, to understand exactly why her actions that day caused such an uproar and why the family remains indignant about the responses they have received from the school and the district regarding Camille’s case.

‘I’m a football player’: Kids paint their faces for field day

Like most fifth-grade students at Bridge Point Elementary in Eanes ISD last year, Camille Lamy was excited about “May Madness,” BPE’s designated field day. A memo laying out some of the May Madness ground rules promised a day “full of FUN with tons of AWESOME stations.”

BPE has several fifth-grade classes, and each class was allowed to vote for a special field day color. One class opted for blue; another chose orange or pink. Camille preferred gray, but her fellow classmates voted for black. So, Camille showed up for school on May 12, 2023, representing her class by wearing black shorts and a black T-shirt.

As many of the older BPE students paint their faces to show team spirit during May Madness, one of Camille’s friends also brought what has been described as a “camo stick,” a camouflage-colored, make-up-like face application often used by hunters and other outdoorsmen. Camille and several of her classmates then began applying the camo stick liberally to their arms, legs, and faces, especially under their eyes as they’ve seen so many athletes do.

“We were like, ‘OK, look, I’m a football player,'” Camille explained to Blaze News.

Caught up in the excitement of the day and wanting to show support for Team Black, Camille and a male friend used the camo stick to draw stripes on their faces before eventually deciding to rub the face paint in, creating black smears all over their faces. At that point, the substitute teacher in charge of the class that day, Katelyn Schueller, reportedly glared at Camille and the boy and told them: “I know your intent was not to be racist, but what you did was racist.”

Schueller, a white woman who taught in other BPE classes before but whom Camille had never met until that day, then ordered the two to go into the bathroom and scrub the black smudges off their faces, an exercise in futility since the only wiping tissue available in the bathroom was toilet paper. After Camille and the boy reported back that they could not remove the smears, Schueller sent the two kids to the counselors’ office.

‘Like I had hurt her
feelings’: Camille’s awkward visit to the main office

As instructed, Camille and the boy went to the counselors’ office, located near the principal’s office in the main office of the building. Likewise in the area was Rachael Sherman, a “school-based therapist” and one of the only black staff members at Bridge Point Elementary, a school that is overwhelmingly white. Though Sherman and Camille had no verbal interaction that day, as Camille sat waiting to speak with BPE Principal Sheri Bryant, Sherman reportedly walked by Camille several times, increasing Camille’s discomfort.

“I felt really, really embarrassed and like I had hurt her feelings and she was gonna be mad at me because the sub said we were being racist,” Camille later said, according to her mother, Kelley Lamy.

Eventually, Principal Bryant invited Camille into her office. However, rather than give Camille a chance to explain what happened, Bryant immediately began echoing Schueller’s sentiments regarding the racist undertones of the black face paint and handed Camille a moistened towel to wipe her face, Camille said. When Camille’s efforts to remove the paint were just as unsuccessful as they had been with the toilet paper, Bryant took matters into her own hands. “The principal is touching Camille and wiping her face at this point,” Kelley Lamy told Blaze News.

The moistened towel and vigorous rubbing caused Camille’s face to turn red and tingle with irritation, but they did also remove the supposedly offensive face paint. So, Camille was almost ready to leave when Bryant directed her to apologize to Ms. Schueller and even made Camille perform a “practice” apology before she would be dismissed, Camille claimed. Anxious to be done with the situation, Camille stated, “I’m sorry for what I did.” That first iteration was unsatisfactory to Ms. Bryant — one of two principals on the district’s DEI Advisory Committee — so Camille tried again: “I’m sorry for being racist.” This time, Bryant approved, and Camille left Bryant’s office.

When Camille returned to the area of her homeroom to grab her lunch box, she reportedly saw Sherman, the black school therapist, consoling Ms. Schueller, who was still apparently upset about the black face paint. Camille did not address either woman but grabbed her lunch and dashed off to meet her friends in the lunch room just in time to see Principal Bryant place baby wipes on all of the tables and order students to clean off all the face paint, regardless of color.

According to Molly May, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction, and assessment for Eanes ISD, Bryant denied “coaching” Camille in her apology and simply treated “the situation as a learning opportunity.” Neither Bryant nor Sherman responded to Blaze News’ request for comment.

‘You knew exactly
what you were doing’: Homeroom teacher weighs in

Camille and her homeroom teacher, Mollie McAllister, missed the Monday following May Madness, but when both returned to class on Tuesday, Ms. McAllister addressed some reports of bad behavior she had received from the substitute, Ms. Schueller. “Some of you didn’t even know what you were doing,” McAllister told the class, according to Kelley Lamy, “but some of you knew exactly what you were doing that day.”

The Lamys told Blaze News that while McAllister made no specific reference to black face paint during her general address to the class, she did look pointedly at Camille and the male student at key moments.

McAllister then passed around paper and instructed students to write Ms. Schueller an apology note. Camille was uncertain how to proceed at this time since her parents had told her not to discuss the incident with anyone at school, including her friends and teachers. However, after Ms. McAllister chastised Camille for allegedly making light of the reports from Ms. Schueller, Camille quickly scribbled a letter that read something to the effect of: “I’m sorry for what I did and for being racist.”

Kelley Lamy later emailed Ms. McAllister, with whom she used to correspond regularly, and asked to see a copy of Camille’s letter, but McAllister replied that she no longer had the letters in her possession. A statement from Assistant Superintendent May claimed that McAllister had “read and recycled” the students’ apology letters without sharing them “with any other person,” ostensibly including Ms. Schueller.

Schueller, who no longer works for the school district, and McAllister did not respond to Blaze News’ request for comment.

‘Perceived as offensive’: District defends ‘blackface’ hysteria

Jay and Kelley Lamy were appalled that Bridge Point Elementary teachers and staff so zealously targeted their daughter for painting her face for May Madness, just as dozens of other BPE students had done. So, they hired an attorney, Stuart Baggish, to fight their cause at the district level.

And fight he did. In a series of verbal statements and written documents filed with the district, Baggish called the entire situation a “witch-hunt” and a “quixotic obsession with fighting non-existent racism.” He even repeatedly asserted that it was a form of emotional and psychological “child abuse” since adults attempted to convince Camille she could commit a racist action without harboring any preexisting “race-hatred,” which Baggish said is “an essential element of racism.”

If anyone is to blame for racism in this case, Baggish claimed, it was not Camille, but McAllister, who knew that her students had voted black as their class color and should have anticipated that some of them would want to paint their faces black in accordance with May Madness custom. She and other adults “should have known in advance what was going to happen” but instead “wait[ed] until the kids had already done it,” he said.

Finally, Baggish called out the substitute teacher, Katelyn Schueller — whom he referred to as “a privileged white woman” — for her role in instigating the matter. Schueller’s “unhinged and misplaced hyper-sensitivities and political hyper-activism led her to affirmatively agitate for discord, where none would otherwise have occurred, leading to an unwarranted fiasco,” Baggish wrote.

His pugnacious language may have indeed struck a nerve as Cory Rush, an attorney representing the district, attempted to downplay the political nature of the case. Rush quibbled with the assertion that the adults involved were a bunch of “social-justice warriors” and denied that the case was a matter of “wokeness” versus “white fragility.”

In response to a formal grievance filed by Baggish, district Assistant Superintendent Molly Mays conducted an investigation into the Lamys’ allegations. As might be expected though, Mays ultimately determined that “Ms. Schueller and Ms. Bryant acted appropriately to teach Camille that covering one’s face entirely in black paint can be perceived as offensive based on the historical context of blackface minstrelsy.”

Mays did grant the Lamys’ request that all references to racism be removed from Camille’s permanent record, a rather hollow concession since, according to Mays, no such references “to racism or the circumstances surrounding the May Madness event” existed on Camille’s record in the first place.

Mays also offered her written response as a de facto apology to the Lamys on behalf of Principal Bryant. Should the Lamys refuse to accept that apology, she offered to arrange a meeting between the Lamys and Principal Bryant “to achieve resolution of this matter.” The Lamys do not accept the response as a suitable apology. Yet, to date, no meeting with Principal Bryant has been arranged, they told Blaze News.

The Lamys also criticized Mays’ so-called investigation, described by attorney Cory Rush as “full” but that consisted only of interviews with three witnesses: Bryant, McAllister, and Schueller. Mays never spoke with Camille or any other student, including those who reportedly supported Camille’s version of events.

Eanes ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeff Arnett, an acquaintance of Jay Lamy, did not respond to Blaze News’ request for comment.

‘The court of public opinion’: The continued fight to clear Camille’s name

In September, the Eanes Board of Trustees voted unanimously to uphold Mays’ grievance response, drawing the Lamys’ legal avenues within the school district to a frustrating close. By that time, Kelley and Jay Lamy had already spent more than $40,000 in attorney fees and other legal costs, and they were still no closer to clearing Camille’s name.

They had the option to pursue their case with the Texas Education Agency, but the Lamys knew they stood little chance of winning there. So, they opted to stop “draining their assets” in the legal system and instead start “winning in the court of public opinion,” Kelley Lamy said. To that end, the Lamys began working with Blaze Media to share their story and expose what is happening in public schools, even in red states like Texas.

For her part, Camille, who is now thriving in an Eanes middle school, just wants people to know that what happened to her was “not OK.” “People [should not be] calling kids racist who don’t know what they were doing and didn’t even try to be racist,” she told Blaze News.

She said she also wants the adults involved in the situation to admit they made “a mistake” in blowing the face-painting out of proportion. A simple apology, not unlike the apologies the adults demanded of her, would go a long way, she indicated.

“Then, all would be forgiven.”

Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!

Articles You May Like

Life-size Stations of the Cross to be built right outside Disney World in Orlando ‘to convert and inspire Christianity’
Mom Intends to Castrate Young Son Against Father’s Wishes
DUCK A LA GRETCH: Gov. Whitmer Dances Around NBC’s ‘Genocide’ Question
NPR/Pravda Sends Whistleblower to the Gulag for Being Honest
Trans activists outraged over Supreme Court allowing Idaho to temporarily ban treatment for minors: ‘Incredibly devastating’

Leave a Comment - No Links Allowed:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *