“Dora the Explorer” has long been synonymous with the adorable animated girl who teaches children Spanish on the hit Nickelodeon show.
But 15-year-old Fatima Ptacek, the voice behind Dora, is now named in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan civil court. The AP reports that the case, brought by Nadia Leonelli and Fredrik Sundwall, alleges that Ptacek encouraged their 14-year-old daughter last December to join her in using a vaping pen to inhale caramel flavored water in a bathroom at Avenues, a private New York school.
According to the AP report, when school officials found out about the incident, Ptacek was given a three-day suspension while the daughter of the couple who filed the lawsuit was expelled.
The couple is reportedly arguing their daughter was treated unfairly because she was not a celebrity.
“The parents are basically saying the school violated its own rules and it’s so unfair they should be forced to readmit their daughter,” said ABC News chief legal analyst Dan Abrams.
Ptacek and her family say they have no comment.
As for Nickelodeon, it says “Fatima is a terrific young lady, and we hope that this matter can be resolved as a private matter among the school and families, as it was originally intended."
In a statement, the Avenues school told “Good Morning America” that “Avenues has very high standards of conduct for everyone who is part of Avenues, and follows a fair and appropriate process when there are infractions. We know students will make mistakes and inappropriate choices. But we expect them to take accountability for them and behave honorably moving forward."
The attorney for the couple who brought the suit says what her clients want most is for their daughter to be able to return to school. But legal experts warn that is likely to be an uphill battle.
“’I was discriminated against because I’m not a celebrity’ is a very difficult legal argument to make,” said Abrams.