Missouri Father Sues School District, Alleging Coach Made Racist Video of Daughter With Monkey Face

PHOTO: Cloe LaneThe Examiner
Blue Springs South basketball player Cloe Lane takes a shot during a June 6, 2012 game in Blue Springs, Mo.

A Missouri father is suing his daughter's school district after her basketball coaches allegedly made a video showing the African-American student with a monkey over her face.

Fred Lane, of Blue Springs, Mo., filed a lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court accusing the Blue Springs School District of discrimination. Lane claimed that his daughter, Cloé Lane, was the target of racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation by her basketball coaches, according to the petition filed Oct. 10.

During Cloé's freshman year at Blue Springs South High School, she was a member of the girls' basketball team, which was coached by Fawna Harrison and Rachel Donaldson.

In October 2011, Harrison allegedly made a video that depicted Cloé with an orangutan monkey over her face that included monkey sounds in the background, according to the court filing. Cloé, who is currently a sophomore, asked Harrison not to show the video to anyone, but according to the petition, Harrison showed it to others at the school.

Harrison did not respond to ABCNews.com's request for comment.

Harrison, however, told the Kansas City Star that she'd received an email last October with a party invitation that used the application Monk-e-Mail, which some of the players, including Cloé, saw. The players, including Cloé, asked Harrison to use their photos with the program. Harrison told the Star that she'd superimposed players' faces, both black and white, onto monkeys' bodies, and that Cloé asked her to send it to other coaches.

"We laughed about it," Harrison, who is white, told the Star. "It had nothing to do with race. That didn't even enter my mind when I did it."

During the 2011-2012 season, there were 16 white girls, 14 African-American girls, two Hispanics and one Samoan girl on the Blue Springs South basketball team, Mark Bubalo, the Blue Springs School District's activities director, told ABCNews.com.

Lane's lawyer did not respond to ABCNews.com's request for comment.

Mark Bubalo told ABCNews.com that after interviewing parents, teachers, players and other students, he had not found any evidence of racial discrimination or harassment against Cloé Lane.

Fred Lane complained to Bubalo in early February 2012 about the video and other "discriminating and retaliatory treatment perpetuated against Cloé," according to the petition, which also said another parent had filed a complaint with Bubalo, saying that the video was racist.

Bubalo told ABCNews.com that he questioned the timing of Lane's complaint, which came three months after the video and a month after Cloé was benched during the first part of a game. Cloé was benched because she had been late to practice, the petition said.

The petition also claimed that coaches Harrison and Donaldson, who is also white, "did nothing to assist" Cloé during a "float trip" with other members of the girls' basketball team in June 2011. Lane had informed Harrison that Cloé could not swim, and Harrison assured him that the girls would be required to wear life jackets.

But the girls were allowed to go into the water without life jackets, and Cloé "was swept off her feet, went under water multiple times, and screamed for help," according to the petition, which alleged that Harrison and Donaldson "sat on the bank, watching, laughing and taking photographs of plaintiff Cloé Lane's struggle." When Fred Lane asked Harrison about the incident later, she said, according to the petition, "that it was one of the funniest things she had ever seen."

"Nobody's life was in danger. Nobody was anywhere near drowning," Harrison told the Star, adding that the water was knee deep.

The petition also alleged that in January 2011, Harrison blamed Cloé Lane for the loss of a game, singling her out in the locker room in front of other team members.

The petition alleged that the conduct of the school district, its agents and its employees "was motivated by plaintiff Cloé Lane's race." According to the petition, the school district "knew or should have known of the discrimination, harassment and retaliation against the plaintiff," and that the district "failed to take any corrective action."