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http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/caselaw/case_Davis_Monroe_SupCt_990524.html Case: Aurelia Davis, as next friend of LaShonda D., v.

Monroe County Board of Education et al Facts: A female student had been harassed over the course of 5 months in 3 separate classes by the same male student. The school did not discipline the male student at any time during the 5 months and only had a verbal discussion with the male student about his conduct. The female student reported incidents to 5 school staff including teachers and the principal and the mother followed up with the teachers and principal after her daughter reported the sexual harassment. The female students grades began to drop and her father also found a suicide note. Other female students also complained of sexual harassment by this same male student. The principal did not respond to the female students and their parents request for a group meeting about the harassment. The principal made insensitive remarks about the situation on two occasions. The male student was eventually charged with battery in the court system, but the school still failed to respond appropriately and only moved the female students desk after 3 months of complaints. The parent of the child filed suit against the school officials and school board seeking damages. The parent claimed the school violated Title IX by creating an environment that was intimidating and hostile to the student and it also prohibited the student from participating in her education. The suit was dismissed in the Federal District Court. The Eleventh Circuit Court agreed with the Federal District Courts decision. The dismissal were appeal and sent to the Supreme Court. Issue: Did the school violate Title IX by failing to respond to a situation that involved student to student sexual harassment and, if so, is that failure to comply with Title IX subject to private restitution? Ruling: There was a majority ruling, in which five justices agreed and four justices dissented, that reversed and directed the Eleventh Circuit lower court that the complaint should not have been dismissed. Rationale: This case referred to the rulings and rationale of nearly 25 other cases involving similar circumstances. The Supreme Court ruled that the parent may be able to prove with facts that she was entitled to restitution, there was continuous reported harassment that may have caused the student to be denied of an appropriate education and the offending student was also charged with battery during this time. Due to the students drop in grades and a suicide note the parent may have evidence that the student was negatively affected. The school and its authorities may not have appropriately investigated, responded or stopped the harassment. The dissent stated that federal courts should not impose themselves in state matters, students often engage in many inappropriate behaviors, Title IX does not specifically state schools are responsible for student discrimination that occurs, students grades often drop and they become unfocused at some point during their education, schools are not properly notified that receipt of federal funds implies they will be held liable for private, third party actions, school officials do not and cannot control students and/or discipline in a manner that they should be liable for actions through court proceedings, and that the decision of this case will cause undue hardship to school from an overwhelming number of future lawsuits. Brief Analysis and Conclusion: Many opinions exist within the rationale for ruling on and dissenting from the ruling within this case. As a school administrator, I think it is a great exercise to contemplate these perspectives from Supreme Court Justices. I think this case will cause administrators to consider and understand the importance of responding to harassment. Though the responsibility to educate our students is daunting enough, I believe it is critical to the success of every students academic progress and performance for them to feel safe at all times in the school environment. The ruling in this case may open many schools up to litigation; however, I am hopeful that administrators will consider harassment in a more thoughtful, serious, preventative, and aggressive manner before and when it occurs.