You might not recognize the name Fátima Ptacek, but odds are you know her voice.
Ptacek is the 15-year-old actress behind Dora the Explorer, the mind-bogglingly popular children's character, whose eponymous cartoon show has entertained and inspired millions of children around the world. But according to new allegations, Ptacek's influence may extend beyond the realms of animated adventure and into outright peer pressure.
According to The Associated Press, a lawsuit filed in New York this week claims Ptacek (referred to only by her initials, but described as the voice of Dora the Explorer) and another girl identified as "M.S." were caught vaping caramel-flavored water in the bathrooms of the prestigious Avenues: The World School in Manhattan, where both girls were enrolled as students.
The girls were allegedly outed out by an upperclassmen at the school, but initially denied any wrongdoing when confronted, only to fess up individually shortly thereafter. As a result, claims the lawsuit filed by M.S.' parents, their daughter was forced to withdraw from the school entirely, while Ptacek was given a three day suspension. A third girl found with M.S. and Ptacek was reportedly given no punishment.
The lawsuit contends that M.S. participated as a result of feeling peer pressure to look cool in front of the actress, and that she is being treated unfairly. According to the New York Daily News, however, the school says that M.S.' punishment stems from administrators finding her not "trustworthy," but did not elaborate further.
"Matters involving litigation and disciplining of students are private and confidential," a school spokesperson told the Daily News. "Avenues has very high standards of conduct…and follows a fair and appropriate process when there are infractions. We know students will make mistakes and inappropriate choices. But we expect them to take accountability for them and behave honorably moving forward."
M.S.' family is reportedly asking their daughter be re-enrolled at Avenues: The World School, and is seeking $40,000 to cover the cost of tuition, as well as legal fees.