Town to pay $100,000 after teacher plays Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’ in class 

Dollita Okine June 07, 2024
Kendrick Lamar at Pulitzer Prizes 2018 award ceremony. Photo: Wiki/Fuzheado

After a student allegedly experienced trauma in one of his classes, a Connecticut town agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a lawsuit. The lawsuit, which was first filed in 2022 concerning the alleged incident in 2020, contends that a Vernon Center Middle School eighth-grade social studies teacher showed his class a documentary titled “Hip Hop: Songs that Shook America,” which included the song “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar.

As reported by the New Haven Register, the lawsuit alleges that the instructor was aware that one of his students had an individualized education plan, was diagnosed with a learning impairment, and was the son of a police officer. It further claims that “the video depicted officers as murderers and contained other shockingly violent scenes and controversial statements about police officers.”

Toward the end of the full version of the “Alright” music video, a man dressed as a police officer can be seen making a finger gun motion and shooting at Lamar, who is perched atop a light pole, according to the publication. He falls from the fixture, and the black-and-white image shows blood oozing out of him.

According to the lawsuit, the student suffered emotional and psychological injuries and distress as a result of being shown the video, including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, shock, confusion, sadness, feeling unsafe, and social withdrawal, all of which require psychological treatment and counseling and, if untreated, pose the risk of severe mental illness.

The student is also alleged to have experienced headaches, nausea, and malaise in addition to being stigmatized for being the child of a police officer, which led to friends and others shunning him, as per the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, this led to the child switching schools, “as a result of which he has suffered loss and damages.”

Except for Councilman Michael Wendus, Town Council members unanimously accepted the settlement on Tuesday.

The Board of Education is expected to complete the settlement at its meeting on Monday. Speaking on behalf of the district, Superintendent Joseph Macary stated that the settlement will address two legal matters: the lawsuit and a special education due process case. The money will be given to the family to “recoup tuition costs after the student was transferred to another school that can meet his needs.”

Macary said, “We always do what’s in the best interest of students, and each student is different so each decision is different, but it’s always what’s best for the kids.” 

His record shows that the teacher in the Lamar incident received a verbal warning after parents complained that the material was inappropriate for eighth-grade students and that he should obtain administration approval and signed permission slips from parents if the material is potentially controversial.

Records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request suggest that the teacher had previously received criticism for the movies he chose to assign or show his students.

In 2006, he was also chastised, according to municipal records, for requiring students to view the R-rated film “Amistad” for extra credit.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: June 7, 2024


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