The principal of Walker High School in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, has issued a public apology to a senior student who was punished for her participation in a dance video that went viral on social media. The student, Kaylee Timonet, was stripped of her role as president of the Student Government Association and a scholarship opportunity after the principal, Jason St. Pierre, deemed her dance moves inappropriate and vulgar.
The Dance Video and the Principal’s Reaction
The dance video was recorded at a homecoming after-party off campus on Sept. 30, 2023. It showed Timonet and her friends dancing to a popular song in a fun and energetic manner. The video was posted by the person hired by community members to DJ the annual event, with the consent of Timonet’s mother, Rachel Timonet, who was also present at the party.
However, three days later, Timonet was called to St. Pierre’s office and confronted with the video. She was told that she had to be an example for other students and that her dancing was not fitting for a student leader. She was also asked about her religious beliefs and forced to watch the video again. St. Pierre printed out some Bible verses for her and said he was worried about her afterlife.
Timonet was devastated by the principal’s actions and felt humiliated and ashamed. She said she had been dancing since she was two years old and that it was a way of expressing herself and having fun with her friends. She said she did not think she did anything wrong or offensive.
The Social Media Backlash and the Principal’s Apology
The incident sparked outrage on social media, where many people supported Timonet and criticized St. Pierre for his harsh and unfair treatment of her. Some students wore buttons to school saying “Let the Girl Dance” and t-shirts to the football game. A hashtag #LetTheGirlDance also trended on Twitter.
On Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, St. Pierre released a statement on the Livingston Parish Schools website, where he said he had apologized to the Timonets and hoped to rectify the situation. He said he would reinstate Timonet’s position on the Student Government Association and endorse her for the scholarship. He also admitted that he should not have broached the subject of religious beliefs with Timonet and that it was not his responsibility to determine what students’ or others’ religious beliefs may be.
He said he hoped to create a path moving forward where he could work together with student leaders to create clear expectations for all. He also said he respected Timonet’s right to express herself through dance and that he did not intend to hurt or offend her or anyone else.
The Student’s Response and Future Plans
Timonet said she appreciated the principal’s apology and hoped to move on from the ordeal. She said she forgave him and understood that he was trying to do his job. She also said she was grateful for the support she received from her family, friends, and strangers online.
She said she planned to continue dancing and pursuing her dreams. She said she had applied to several colleges and hoped to major in psychology or sociology. She also said she wanted to use her voice and platform to advocate for other students who may face similar situations in the future.