Louisiana School May Now Face Lawsuit Over Principal’s Actions
A principal in Livingston Parish has found himself in a massive amount of trouble after he lashed out against a top student. Now the issue may rise to the level of legal actions because of his response to the controversy.
This all started in early October, after Walker High School's homecoming events. As most homecoming celebrations at high schools do, this one ended with a homecoming dance. But not everyone participated in the "official" school-sponsored homecoming dance. Some area parents in this Livingston Parish community have traditionally held their own version. Where they rent a building off-site, and chaperone their kids themselves. Which is exactly what happened this year at Walker High School, and is the setting for the catalyst of this controversy.
Walker High School student Kaylee Timonet is a model student. She carries a 4.0 grade point average, is the student government president, plans to graduate early, is Beta Club president, and has been racking up scholarships. She was also one of the students who attended an off-site homecoming dance this year.
After this off-campus dance was held, Timonet was confronted by Walker High School President Jason St. Pierre. The principal pulled Timonet into his office, berated her, and stripped her of her student government position. He then informed her that she was being stripped of a major scholarship as well. All because he didn't personally like a video posted to social media.
St. Pierre was triggered by a video posted online by a DJ that had been hired by Timonet's mother, Rachel, for a private party after Walker High School's Homecoming. An event that Rachel has been hosting for years. This event was a private event, held at the Livingston Parish Country Club, and completely paid for by those involved, and had zero attachment to the school. Giving the principal no jurisdiction over the event.
The public outrage prompted St. Pierre to issue a statement through the school's official channels. Here's one of the posted responses.
The Timonet's explained that St. Pierre made it clear his problems stemmed from his religious beliefs. Which he brought up during the outburst against the student. Going as far as printing bible quotes and highlighting parts he shoved at the student. This was one of the major concerns the public initially latched onto, because Walker High School is a public school. The actions of St. Pierre were and clear and direct violations of the separation of church as state.
As another Louisiana school system recently learned, this behavior can have serious legal consequences. The Bossier Parish School system remains under a consent decree put forward by the US District Court of Western Louisiana. The Americans United for the Separation of Church and State declared victory in the case back in 2019 when the 12-year decree was put into place.
Now the Timonet's are responding to the principal's statement, and suggesting there may be legal action against the principal and the school system.
The Timonet's are asserting that the points St. Pierre included in his statement were untruths. Pointing to the deadline on the scholarship, and the way he described their religious interaction. As Louisiana Radio Network describes it:
"Timonet, said when St. Pierre called her in his office to reprimand her about the dancing, he discussed religion with her and told her she should set a better example due to her SGA position. St. Pierre posted that Timonet brought up religion first.
“I’ve always been taught we do not bring up politics or religion, that is something that’s way out of the picture, especially in a public school, so I don’t understand why that was brought up. But he’s accusing me of us both of bringing up religion which is not factual,” said Timonet."
In the video, a tearful Kaylee Timonet states that she has heard from numerous students who have had similar interactions with St. Pierre.
According to multiple reports, St. Pierre has stated that he will take a "leave of absence" for the rest of the school year. But those reports also indicate that the school system hasn't seen paperwork on such an action.
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