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Danville student settles free-speech lawsuit against SRVUSD, will receive $665,000 and public apology

Original post made on Apr 7, 2020

As a part of the settlement, the district will award the former San Ramon Valley High School student body president $665,000 and will issue a public apology for "negative effects, disruption and emotional distress."

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 7, 2020, 2:41 PM

Comments (29)

Posted by The Stevenson Family
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 7, 2020 at 3:10 pm

I turn to this website when I want a quick bit of local, non-COVID19 news, and am grateful for the reporting.

Finding the best words to convey the dismay and disappointment in this situation is beyond me right now. What an egregious abuse to bring a lawsuit - when the situation could have been resolved in an alternate way - against an already poorly funded public education system.

There is no contesting that First Amendment right are important, but our public schools deserve our flexibility and support as they do their best to walk a very fine line in specific matters like this.

It's a disgusting shame the family resorted to this approach and one way or another have taken $665k out of the hands (and heads) of our students. I hope this will be a situation where they return the money to the school district or at minimum donate the full amount toward other education or First Amendment non-profit organizations.

Posted by Mike Hawk
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Apr 7, 2020 at 3:26 pm

Guess we gotta use the chrome books for another year in this poverty ridden school district

Posted by SRV Alumn
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2020 at 3:27 pm

If you’d seen it, you’d have known it was clearly racist and sexual.
The only bright side is that the family racked up more legal bills than that settlement will cover.
This is just another example how things have gone to hell under Schmitt.

Posted by The Stevenson Family
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 7, 2020 at 3:41 pm

Yes, heard it was offensive. At the risk of adding fuel to the fire, the (lack of) parenting is appalling. Sometimes we have to learn tough lessons - whether or not we think we were "right" in the matter. This should have been a situation where the family delivered some tough love to the child and sided with the school. It would've been an opportunity to build his character rather than teaching him to be vindictive and work the system.

Posted by SR Alumni
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2020 at 3:47 pm

This is absolutely infuriating. Although I am happy this absurd case was settled, it was a high school election and this is the real world. 665k should be going to benefit students or to the graduating senior class who does not get to experience the rest of high school. I am disgusted that this family has made something about themselves once again. They threatened another lawsuit upon SRV again when their younger son didn’t win a school election as well. We are in the middle of a pandemic right now and that money is desperately needed to accommodate something that is far more important. I hope they are happy because they have left a name for their family that will never be overturned. Maybe this family can use the money to educate themselves on the difference between a free speech case and crying over a HIGH SCHOOL election. Either way, glad I don’t have to hear their name ever again.

Posted by JamesR
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2020 at 3:51 pm

They say lightening doesn't strike twice in the same spot, but for this Superintendent, Rachel Hurd, Greg Marvel and Ken's like a phenomenon! How on earth do you manage to mess this up? We should start a tally of how many times the district was sued under their leadership and money was diverted away from classrooms to cover their poor leadership. Quite the record you people have!

Posted by Chinese guy
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 7, 2020 at 4:07 pm

[Post removed due to use of expletives and other offensive language]

Posted by A Danville Mom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 7, 2020 at 4:24 pm

Yes, "Yu", please do the right thing and return the money back to the SRVUSD school system :(!
So upsetting. I did not see the video. The district is stepping up to the plate, and "taking the hight road." They apologized to you publicly, and even agreed to give you over half million dollars?

How about you return the gesture, and give back to the Schools! So Sad! Amidst all this current, unbelievable situation/environment, do you feel "happy" to be taking the public school funds?

So sad :(! Please do the right thing!!

Posted by Anon
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2020 at 4:28 pm

Did I miss something? He had people playing roles in the video and some of the roles were terrorists? How is that racist? But enlighten me if I’m missing something. The show Homeland has people playing terrorists on it. And many movies every single year.

Posted by CJ
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 7, 2020 at 4:29 pm

Wow, unbelievable smh.

Posted by SRV Alum
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2020 at 5:13 pm

Judging by the aggressive responses in this thread, I am positive nobody read the documents released by the lawyers. The school's response was coordinated against Yu and almost none of the admin watched the video. They knew they were in the wrong but continued against him anyway. Don't blame the victim on this one.

Posted by Gabe Itches
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2020 at 5:26 pm

[Post removed due to use of expletives and other offensive language]

Posted by SlaveOwner221
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2020 at 5:38 pm

agreed. ^

Posted by Justin
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 7, 2020 at 6:02 pm

This case is obviously just another example of many failures under superintendent Rick Schmitt in the last few years. I don't know why he was not explicitly fired (instead let him announce his retirement last week). He should be deprived of all his pension and retirement benefits to make up some of the loss for SRVUSD for his horrible leadership in the last 4 years in SRVUSD.

As for the lawsuit, it is all about justice in the first place. As a father of 2 students in this district, I hate to see such big chunk of money is taken away from students, teachers and staffs in SRVUSD, but I don't blame Yu and his family. There is nothing wrong for them to fire the lawsuit when they can win it today. The verdict, which articulate the violation of First amendment right, clearly sends out the message that schools has responsibility to teach our kids to build the basics on how to identify what is really right and what is really wrong, to think independently, to act rationally and responsibility. Instead of being taken away brainless and trapped in the big and messy jar of "political correctness".

Posted by Me
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 7, 2020 at 6:06 pm

Racist or not, it doesn't matter. Yu has a right to say what he wants outside of school and this right was infringed upon. We have a right to ignore his video. I'm glad he sued and won. Hopefully, public schools can learn their lesson now. Maybe he can use that money to help unseat the liberals who are ruining our education system. Support your local private schools!

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2020 at 6:13 pm

From one minority group to another and from someone who has seen the video, I wonder if this student’s family would have been this generous if the tables were turned and they were on the receiving end of this racism. Would
They feel that the attackers were justified In labeling them and ridiculing them based on their ethnicity?
I don’t blame your child for this, but what exactly are you teaching him?
And to take this much money from our already overstretched school district is just despicable, especially during during this pandemic when the entire country is going bankrupt.
Also to bring this lawsuit just makes your child infamous for the kind of behavior that your lack of parenting has caused. I really don’t blame your child, children make mistakes, but instead of a teachable moment, you bring a lawsuit to double down on it.
I suggest you return this money to the district and learn to have an open mind and empathy for other minorities.

Posted by Justin
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 7, 2020 at 6:16 pm

Although I support the justice win for them, I wish the Yu family can donate whatever they left (excluding the lawsuit cost and own cost) back to SRVUSD voluntarily. As I know this $665K is an additional to the payment to the Curry family 8 Million dollars in February this year -- no for school! What a shame and disaster!!! I feel hurts when I see such huge money gone for nothing in this disastrous year alone!
Please bring real CHANGE, SRVUSD

Posted by srv alum
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2020 at 6:51 pm

It’s unbelievable that nathaniel was awarded after being a terrible president and not apologizing for the video that he made. While he had freedom of speech, he clearly didn’t realize that it went against school rules and campaign rules. Truly unbelievable. A horrible use of district money while there are much bigger needs not only in our district, but around the nation right now. People are suffering, and his family is focused on issues in the past that clearly do not matter anymore. High school ended two years ago for him. Time to move on and realize that in the real world there are bigger issues.

Posted by SRVUSD is a disaster
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 7, 2020 at 7:02 pm

Wow! What a disaster!

A student drowns in a swimming pool full of dozens of students while a teacher looks at his phone. Yet the teacher is seemingly never disciplined or fired. And a student is dead.

Meanwhile, the exact same school district 'disciplines' a kid for making a "make believe" comedy/parody video over the weekend.

Can anyone explain the absurdity of this? No wonder the superintendent has announced he is leaving.

Posted by Robert Mc
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Apr 7, 2020 at 7:37 pm

To parents, taxpayers and the community of SRVHS. Please read the discovery in this matter.

Here is the link:

Web Link

Sadly, the documents reflect very poorly on the school district. Teachers, Administrators and others undertook unconstitutional actions which clearly violated the student's due process. Specifically, read the emails and documents from the history and leadership teachers, and a deputy principal. How can the school still employ that teacher in a leadership class? It is shocking and very disappointing.

Taxpayers of the school district should be enraged at the lack of oversight at SRVHS with this case, and others that have occurred in recent years. Please reach out to the school board members and let them know how you feel, and it is time for them to take action and clean it up.

Posted by San Ramon Asian Mom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 7, 2020 at 10:28 pm

Can anyone help with Yu family contact information?

Is there a way to get to these people via email? Does the family see these comments?
Either they are getting lots of negative feedback or they are moving out of town?

Can we reach out to this family with kindness? Perhaps they do not understand the situation of the SRVUSD funds.

Maybe if we show compassion, the Yu family will see that 1/2 million dollars is quite a large amount of money. It is 3-10 years of salary for most families.

I have realized that it is futile to write a petition to SRVUSD or the Yu family. Too late and too brutal.
Simple, compassionate letters will probably do the trick to convince.


Posted by
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 7, 2020 at 10:59 pm

It is so hard for Chinese Americans found their voice over important issues like this. The cost of fighting this lawsuit is high both financially and emotionally. It has more symbolic importance than really financial importance. I hope all Chinese Americans after this lawsuit will have the courage and tools to voice out for ourselves.

At the same time, all the people should rethink why we are here in the U.S. from our first generation till now. What is the American dream? If an immigrant family would like to sacrifice their savings and retirement fund to fight to clarify a boy's name. There must be something strong and clear to say to all of us and for all of us.

I am sure one day in the future that their courage could help someone like this boy in the fight against wrongful accuse and find his standing in this society no matter who they are and what national origin they have.

Great job! A small immigrant family against a big and strong organization. That is amazing.

Posted by San Ramon Asian Mom
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 7, 2020 at 11:05 pm

Can anyone help with Yu family contact information?

Does the family read these comments? Perhaps if we all reach out to the family with compassion and kindness.
The family undoubtedly is receiving a lot of negative backlash. Will they simply move out of town?

I now realize that a petition to either SRVUSD or the Yu family is too late and too vicious. Kindness will probably be most convincing. If anyone can provide a physical address or electronic address?

Posted by mrszalewski2
a resident of Danville
on Apr 8, 2020 at 6:54 am

I read the web link disclosing the SRVHS staff involved in this case. When I reflect back on the dealings I had with them during my youngest son’s years at SRVHS, I am not at all surprised they are mentioned in a lawsuit. It was only a matter of time. State officials in Sacramento need to take a hard look at not only the district but the goings on at SRVHS. “Housekeeping “ is definitely in order.

Posted by Victory of human right
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 8, 2020 at 9:38 am

This case is another victory of human right, of fairness, and of freedom of speech.
I am now more confident on the US legal system.
This family is brave to fight back when bullied by bad people.

Although the compensation may not be enough to cover the lawsuit cost, they have won the battle. Thank them for sacrificing themselves to bring safety and fairness for our kids in the future.

I wish the school district can learn this lesson, and make substantial change to treat all students with fairness in the future.

Posted by SR Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 8, 2020 at 12:46 pm

I don't understand lots of the negative comments toward the family. Yes, we are a poorly funded school district already. But that won't justify attacking the victims! School district did something unfair to the family and tax payers paid for their mistake. It is the school district and the leadership to be blamed, not the victim family.

In a previous lawsuit, the school district paid millions dollars to a family lost their kid from drowning. I don't remover anybody blame the victim family.

Posted by Tommy
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 9, 2020 at 1:44 am

Trust me. The district lost much more than 660K. They probably lost more paying their expensive attorneys.

To the people/parents advocated the district violating the constitution to punish the poor student: you are the ones partially responsible to the huge loss of educational money.

I urge each of you donate $1000 immediately to the district to make up the loss because of your hateful, ignorant, human right violating actions.

Posted by concerned parent
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 9, 2020 at 10:42 pm

I'm appalled at the bashing of this family. Those who make such negative assumptions please read the legal documents and if that is too much to read, how about the district's own words: "The district recognizes and regrets the negative consequences associated with mischaracterizations regarding you and the content of the video."

Imagine what a 17-year-old went through facing the bullying from teachers and school administrators -- authority figures who should have nurtured students and served as role models. The character assassination launched by the Leadership Class teacher and her close circle on social media (which was later deleted by the person who posted it) and broadcast media was beyond what a teenager could bear. The district should have disciplined those authority figures in the first place, instead of the student.

Posted by XH
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 9, 2020 at 11:45 pm

SRVUSD just issued their Apology Letter to Yu Family on their homepage, at the bottom of News list. Click "Acknowledgment Letter Exhibit 4" to see the letter, or follow this link:

Web Link

'We want to formally acknowledge that,despite various reports on social media and in the press that described the video as "hate speech", we do not believe the contents of the video constituted "hate speech". We further believe that the video did not bully, harass, discriminate against, or threaten anyone. Finally, the video did not portray any sexual content. The District recognizes and regrets the negative consequences associated with mischaracterizations regarding you and the content of video.'

It is quite obvious that many people disseminate false narratives, or blame the victim and his family, without watching the video. For example,
Web Link

It is also quite obvious that different opinion exist in the people who did watch the video. For example,
Web Link

As a person who did watch the video 3 years ago, I agree with Mrs. Hurd.

As a San Ramon resident, I feel it is a real danger that someday SRVHS might cause even worse damage to anther student/family (and to our District), while I sincerely hope our District can learn from the case, in a good way though.

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