A former student at Ronald W. Reagan/Doral Senior High School has filed a lawsuit against the district, claiming that his face was used to illustrate a school newspaper article on sexually transmitted diseases in teenagers. After the article, kids teased him with the nickname "STD Boy".
Kenneth "Kenny" Clements-- who has since graduated and is now an eighteen-year-old AC/DC fan, as revealed by his Facebook page-- filed suit last week. In February 2011, the Reagan Advocate published a story entitled "Teen Stay Quiet About STD's". The story featured a photograph of Kenny, he claims in the suit, with an "x" over his mouth.
Kenny's lawyer, Harry Shevin, sent us a bad reproduction of the story. We've posted it below. "In the original, the picture was only slightly blurred," says Shevin. "You could very clearly tell it was Kenneth."
In the suit, Kenny says that the "x" infers that "he was keeping quiet about an alleged sexually transmitted disease." The complaint makes clear that "Kenneth Clements did not have any sexually transmitted disease." As a result of his unfortunate stardom, Kenny suffered "injury to his reputation" resulting in "shame, humiliation, mental anguish, and hurt feelings."
Shevin says he doesn't know why Kenny's photo was used, but he doesn't rule out retaliation or bullying.
In the paper, a student is credited for the graphic's production. According to the Advocate's website, the adult apparently in charge of the newspaper and yearbook is Lourdes Montiel. She didn't respond to a message left on her voicemail at school.
The suit claims that the principal, Jacques Bentolila, also reviewed the newspaper before it was published.
We left a message with his secretary and are waiting to hear back. Updated: Miami-Dade Public Schools spokesperson John Schuster declined to comment, citing "the possibility of litigation."
There's a lesson here for young journalists: Acquaint yourself with the concept of commercial stock photos. Says Attorney Shevin: "I know that for my website I used a stock photo of a hot woman with a phone headpiece."