Ralston, Nebraska – A former Ralston High School student, Ezekiyal Wells, has decided to dismiss the racial discrimination case against a teacher in the district but will continue to pursue the case against Ralston Public Schools.
The background of this controversial incident dates back to May 2021, when Wells’ yearbook photo was reportedly used without his consent in a science exam. The contentious part was that the exam displayed the then 17-year-old’s picture with the question, “Which class includes the animal shown?” This was the format for the first seven questions of the exam, presenting various pictures and giving options like agnathia, amphibia, and Mammalia, among others.
The issue became a focal point of ridicule among the students, and Wells found out about the misuse of his image when he observed fellow students laughing. He recounted, “To me, it came out more racist, if anything, because it’s like you’re trying to identify me as something. I know I’m a human. You’re not about to sit here and say I’m other than that.”
The official stance from the school was interestingly centered on a former interaction. According to court documents, Thomas Earhart, the teacher responsible for the test, explained that he used Wells’ picture due to a past conversation about primates. Contradicting this, Wells clarified in 2021 that he wasn’t even part of Earhart’s class during the year the test was conducted.
Although Wells has decided to forego his claims against the teacher, including the emotional damages claim, he remains steadfast in holding Ralston Public Schools accountable for racial discrimination under Title VI. The school district, in response, had attempted to have the charge dismissed, but this move was not successful.