RALSTON, Neb. — A former student at Ralston High School has filed a complaint against Ralston Public Schools and a former district employee, alleging that they discriminated against the student.
As per the paperwork filed in the case, Ezekiyal Wells’ yearbook photo was used without his permission in a science exam administered by Ralston High School teacher Thomas Earhart in May of 2021.
When the student was 17 years old, the first question on a final exam in zoology displayed a photo of the student and asked, “Which class includes the animal shown?”
The first seven multiple-choice questions on the exam all ask the same question with different photos and all have the same set of acceptable answers: agnatha, amphibia, aves, chondrichthyes, osteichthyes, mammalia, and reptilia.
In the court documents, Wells, a junior at Ralston High School, learned that his photo had been used when he witnessed several classmates laughing at the picture being featured on the test. Wells became aware that his image had been utilized.
The high school principal provided the paper version of the test to the Wells family. The photo of Wells is the sole individual or student that can be found in that particular copy of the test.
As per the documents filed in the case, Earhart claimed that he used the photograph because Wells had been a student in his class the prior year, and the two of them had discussed primates during that time.
Former Ralston High School student sues district, alleges racial discrimination https://t.co/IAmC9MTSAA
— KETV NewsWatch 7 (@KETV) May 30, 2023
Wells said in 2021 to KETV NewsWatch 7 that he wasn’t even enrolled in the class, and that’s why he wasn’t aware that his photo had been included on the exam until other students pointed it out to him.
“To me, it came out more racist, if anything, because it’s like you’re trying to identify me as something,” said Wells. “I know I’m a human, you’re not about to sit here and say I’m other than that.”
His mother said Natalie Wells, the educator contacted her by phone and apologized several times.
As per the paperwork filed in the case, Wells makes the claim that the use of the photograph was “motivated by” his race and color in the lawsuit.
In addition, the suit asserts that the defendant knowingly caused the plaintiff emotional anguish and invaded their privacy.
KETV NewsWatch 7 was informed by the school system that the Ralston Board of Education accepted Earhart’s resignation in June of 2021.
In the filings filed with the court, Wells requests that a jury trial for monetary damages relating to the incident be held in Omaha.
As per a statement provided by Ralston Public Schools to KETV NewsWatch 7, the district cannot respond due to pending litigation.
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