A dance coach who was accused of telling a high school student that she was "too dark" to perform with the dance team has denied being a racist.
Choreographer Kevin Murakami, is not named in the lawsuit but was included in series of texts between him and the student's dance coach, Carley Fine which were leaked online.
“I never even referenced the color of her skin. This is made up, and it’s absolute nonsense,” Murakami said, noting that he was gay and half Japanese, and has experienced racism.
“I was raised to be open and to appreciate all races, genders, sexual orientations and cultures.”
He did not reference the text messages in his statement.
Camille Sturdivant was a member of the 14-person "Dazzlers" dance team at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park before she graduated in May. There was only one other Black student on the team at the time.
According to the lawsuit filed Dec. 5 in the United States District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, the team's choreographer, Fine, allegedly told her that "her skin was too dark and the audience would look at her and not the other dancers."
The suit also states that the choreographer also told her that her skin color "clashed with the color of the costumes."
Sturdivant is requesting a jury trial and is seeking an unspecified amount in "actual damages, compensatory and punitive damages."
he school district ABC News the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
"Respectful and meaningful relationships between staff and students are at the heart of Blue Valley’s culture. Discrimination of any kind has no place here. The District expects staff to treat all students with respect at all times, and any report that this expectation has not been fulfilled is taken very seriously. As stated in the Complaint, on May 1, 2018, Mrs. Sturdivant showed Dr. Pressly the text message between Mr. Murakami and Ms. Fine. Ms. Fine’s employment with the District was separated the following day on May 2, 2018."