Articles tagged with Title IX

School boards urge U.S. appeals court to provide flexibility for schools in promoting a safe environment

The National School Boards Association (NSBA), joined by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education (MABE), filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in the case of Doe v. Board of Education of Prince George’s County. At issue in the case is the standard that courts should use to hold a school district liable for money damages under Title IX for the alleged harassment and sexual assault of a student by another student. Title IX is a federal civil rights statute that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs receiving federal funds.

A 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, developed a clear and stringent standard in peer-on-peer sexual harassment cases that only when school officials are deliberately indifferent to severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive harassment of which they have actual knowledge are school districts liable for monetary damages.

“School officials who know their students and local circumstances are in the best position to respond to reports of sexual harassment in a way that makes sense,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “The Davis standard recognized the importance of school officials retaining the flexibility to make professional judgments about how to address discriminatory peer harassment.” In its amicus brief, NSBA and MABE seek the Fourth Circuit’s support of the judiciary’s long-standing deference to school officials’ decision-making about maintaining safe, harassment-free learning environments for students.

The parents offered guidance documents from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) – along with “expert” reports and testimony – to support their claim that the school district did not do enough to investigate the reports of harassment and would have been able to prevent the alleged subsequent assaults had they done so.

“The legal argument for liability in this case is contrary to existing law,” said NSBA General Counsel Francisco M. Negrón, Jr. “Unfortunately, this argument relies in part on confusing statements from OCR, which NSBA has warned previously would lead to more lawsuits needlessly filed against school district based on an incorrect legal standard.”

In their brief, NSBA and MABE make clear that the parents’ approach departs from established legal doctrine on deliberate indifference and is one that the Supreme Court has rejected. The effectiveness of the district’s response as judged in hindsight, based solely on “expert” evaluations made after the fact and recurrence of harassment is insufficient to establish deliberate indifference.

“We have to get this important case right,” added Gentzel. “School personnel who have exercised appropriate professional judgment in carrying out their day-to-day responsibilities cannot live in fear of lawsuits that second-guess their decisions, especially when those decisions are based on Supreme Court precedent.”

Alexis Rice|June 6th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, School Climate, School District Reorganization, School Law, School Security|Tags: , , , , , |

August issue of ASBJ marks Title IX anniversary

The August issue of the American School Board Journal is now live and as always includes a number of spectacular features including a cover package on the 40th anniversary of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits educational discrimination on the basis of gender.

You’ll also find great how-to and how-not-to advice in articles about process and performance management, stopping sexual misconduct by teachers, and telling your story to the public.

Enjoy these last weeks of summer before gearing up for another successful school year.

 

 

 

Naomi Dillon|August 2nd, 2012|Categories: American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , |

Feds launch initiative to stem sexual violence in schools

322-1222511197yhmWBetween 20 and 25 percent of college-aged women and six percent of men are victims of rape during their years at school.  Most perpetrators are not strangers— but acquaintances, friends or romantic interests.

Despite the prominence of sexual violence on college campuses, a startling number of attacks go unreported. The American Association of Women estimates that 65 percent of these cases are never brought to the attention of police or university officials.

Some common causes for this phenomenon are fear of retribution from the attacker, embarrassment and the victim’s belief that it was their fault. These are all psychological consequences of a traumatic event, perpetuated by the social stigma which dictates that these survivors should be ashamed.

It is certain that before more rape and harassment victims step forward, societal ideas about the crime and those who’ve lived through it have to change.

But another serious reason that some remain silent— the belief that their school won’t do anything about the incident—has barely been addressed. This can be especially problematic where institutional policies on sexual violence are lenient, poorly defined, or non-existent.

Hopefully, positive institutional changes will occur as a result of a new set of federal guidelines to prevent sexual violence in U.S. public schools.

Today, Vice President Joe Biden will disclose these suggestions, which are in the form of a “Dear Colleague” letter clarifying and expanding upon Title IX, at the University of New Hampshire.
(more…)

Naomi Dillon|April 4th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, School Climate|Tags: , , |
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