A student at Walker High School in Louisiana was punished by the public school’s principal after he saw some of her dance moves in a video that was posted on social media and was given to the administration. He declared it “twerking” and his reprimand quickly turned religious.
Principal Jason St. Pierre told 17-year-old Kaylee Timonet that she could no longer serve on the school’s student government and that he would no longer recommend her for two college scholarships that she was applying for. She was also, he said, out of the running for Student of the Year.
Kaylee’s mom, Rachel Timonet, explained exactly what happened to local Baton Rogue news channel WAFB. Her daughter was attending a private post-Homecoming dance — which was not funded by the school — when the video was taken. Parents were present, and many of the kids were dancing and having fun.
“I was physically there watching her do it, so if I thought it was inappropriate in any way, I would have corrected my child,” Rachel explained. “If something that she did on school grounds and they called her in and addressed it, fine. But when you’re addressing something because of a personal belief?”
When St. Pierre saw a video that the hired DJ took and posted on social media, though, he called Kaylee in and told her she wasn’t “living the lord’s way.”
“He also began to ask her questions about the faith of her friends,” she said of the public school principal. “He even printed Bible verses off, highlighted them, and spoke to her, basically, about faith.”
Others at the school have had an enormous response to the punishment. Kids and parents are wearing pink T-shirts and buttons that say, “let the girl dance.”
You can see the dancing video below.
Now, in a written statement, the principal is apologizing.
“I have had time to consider my actions, have conversations with the Timonets, and meet with district staff,” he wrote. “First, let me say that I have apologized to the Timonets and I am hopeful that my scheduled meeting with Kaylee’s mom will rectify this situation and allow Kaylee to enjoy the remainder of her senior year at Walker High School.”
He also added that he will reinstate Kaylee’s position on the Student Government Association and his scholarship endorsement — and admitted that he had no place to talk about religion in the principal’s office.
“Finally, during my conversation with Kaylee regarding the dance party, the subject of religious beliefs was broached by Kaylee and myself,” he said. “While that conversation was meant with the best intentions, I do understand it is not my responsibility to determine what students’ or others’ religious beliefs may be — that should be the responsibility of the individual.”
The Timonet family noted that the scholarship application deadline had passed, and that St. Pierre, not Kaylee, solely brought up religion.
The Livingston Parish School District later said in a statement that the principal has asked to take the remainder of the school year off, and that his paperwork was being processed.
Kaylee’s mom, Rachel, had some concluding words for the situation as well.
“Thankfully people have stood up for Kaylee,” she told WAFB. “I’ll be forever grateful. Because she’s worked so hard. I don’t want all of this to go away and for her to feel like a failure. Always stand up for your kids. And if you are in a position of power, like an administration or educator, you should lift them up instead of put them down.”