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Citing the Bible, a principal punished a star student over a Homecoming afterparty dance
Kaylee Timonet was having harmless fun with her friends. The Jesus-loving public school principal is punishing her for it.
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UPDATE: Over the weekend, following a massive outcry, Principal Jason St. Pierre issued a statement apologizing for his actions and reinstating Kaylee’s position with the student government:
Good afternoon WHS Family,
I believe it is necessary to respond to the public attention that has resulted from my actions regarding Kaylee Timonet’s participation in a dance party that was sponsored at an off-site location following WHS Homecoming.
I have had time to consider my actions, have conversations with the Timonets, and meet with district staff.
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.
I will be reinstating Kaylee’s position on the Student Government Association. The SGA was created to give students a voice in their school and their community, to promote leadership qualities, and to represent their school with pride, enthusiasm, and respect. Our student government members are held to a high standard of student behavior. While I stand by that premise, I do believe that standard deserves the input of not just myself and top administrators, but also those student leaders. I hope to create a path moving forward where we can work together to create clear expectations for all.
I will be reinstating my scholarship endorsement for Kaylee. At Walker High, we strive to place our students first in every decision so they may be prepared for whatever career path they may aspire to take, and I believe my action will assist in doing that.
Finally, during my conversation with Kaylee regarding the dance party, the subject of religious beliefs was broached by Kaylee and myself. 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.
As principal of Walker High School, I am faced daily with many difficult decisions for the interest of our students and employees that are never taken lightly. Please know that I always strive to place our students first in every decision. It is for that reason that I have taken this corrective action.
As we move forward, I ask for your continued support of Walker High School, our amazing teachers, and our outstanding students.
JASON ST. PIERRE, PRINCIPAL OF WALKER HIGH SCHOOL
UPDATE 2: Principal Jason St. Pierre has requested a leave of absence for the rest of the school year. It’s not clear if that’s related to this controversy.
Kaylee Timonet is a senior at Walker High School in Louisiana with a stellar résumé. She’s president of the student government, has a 4.2 grade point average, and plans to graduate early so she can begin college in January.
But this week, she was removed as student body president and told she was no longer eligible for an important scholarship… all because there was video of her dancing with her friends at a private post-Homecoming party on Saturday.
Her own mother—who was at the party—said there was “nothing inappropriate” taking place. It was just kids having harmless fun. One girl at the party was twerking and Kaylee was dancing behind her… and that’s it. Others were dancing, too, and I’d bet good money that the kids at Homecoming were dancing far more suggestively than that. Even the DJ at that private party noted, “It was genuinely kids having fun.”
The independent news site Unfiltered with Kiran, which first broke this story, spoke with Kaylee and her mother about the situation. What’s truly disturbing is how Principal Jason St. Pierre allegedly brought the Bible into the situation before punishing Kaylee.
According to [mother Rachel] Timonet, the principal told Kaylee that her actions went against the Bible, and questioned her faith. She added that the assistant principal told Kaylee that she needed to make better choices and have better friends.
The next morning, Timonet had a meeting with the principal, and she said that he mentioned he printed out Bible verses to show Kaylee Timonet.
“I couldn’t believe they could do something like that to a kid, a kid with a 4.2 average and Beta Club,” said the mother. “Being that the separation of church and state and that they don’t know what my faith and my beliefs are as a family and that is not for anybody to do other than my family. Also questioning her and demanding an answer if her friends follow the Lord and she’s answering, ‘I don’t know,’ she should not be questioned or spoken (to) about faith at all. It’s a public school, not a private school. He has no right to discuss any sort of religion with my child.”
I found out last night that the principal also gave Kaylee a bracelet that said “I love Jesus.” St. Pierre did not respond to my request for comment.
Kaylee’s mother was absolutely right, though. There was no reason to bring religion into the situation especially since nothing that occurred at the off-campus private party violated school policy.
Without the Bible coming into the picture, there might be a reasonable debate to be had about whether public schools should penalize students for certain off-campus decisions. Even then, the principal’s actions would appear to be overreach. But bringing religion into the picture made everything so much worse.
Honestly, you need religion to justify condemning a child for something so innocuous because there’s no rational explanation to do it otherwise. Our criminal justice system is more lenient with first-time offenders.
Last night, I had a chance to speak with Rachel Timonet, Kaylee’s mother, who told me that the deep irony in this whole story is that they’re Catholic. The principal was pushing the Bible on someone who already accepts the Bible. Rachel said however, that she always taught her kids not to proselytize because religion is a “very touchy subject.” Something that personal isn’t meant to be used as a weapon.
“If you’re trying to shame my child by saying [her actions weren’t] appropriate in the Lord’s eyes, that’s not okay with me,” she added.
Kaylee echoed those comments earlier this week:
“All I was doing was having innocent fun. I was mortified,” Kaylee said. “So when it felt like everything was thrown in the trash no matter all the things I had accomplished because of this video of me dancing, I felt like a failure. I really felt like I failed.”
Leave it to Jesus to make a great student feel like shit for daring to have some fun before she graduates.
If there’s any silver lining here, it’s that Kaylee’s friends have waged a social media campaign to show their support for her, replacing their normal profile pictures with one that says “Let the girl dance”:
Unless there’s more information we don’t know, St. Pierre owes Kaylee and her family a public apology. Or at the very least, an explanation for why he chose to shove a Bible in her face. Anyone who points to the Bible to defend Purity Culture has no business running a public school.
Rachel, the mother, told me no one from the school has reached out to her since this controversy began going viral online. She was hoping administrators would try to make amends, but so far, crickets. She has, however, heard many stories from students and parents about how this principal has pushed his religion on their families as well. That’s weighing on her mind a lot.
If a lawsuit is the only way to make him stop treating the school like his personal religious playground, she told me, she’ll absolutely consider that.
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