December 19, 2011 


TLC Faculty members Eddie Schmidt (Nashville,TN) and Ann Johnson (Houston, TX) recently sued the school system for violation of Title IX, which prohibits sexual harassment of students. The plaintiffs claimed that school officials had actual knowledge of the harassment and acted with deliberate indifference by failing to institute an appropriate disciplinary response.


The jury found the school board responsible and awarded $100,000 to each student. 

 

Here is a summary of the Case:
TRIAL NEWS
Verdicts & Settlements: Schools
August 4, 2011
School district fails to respond to students’ sexual harassment 

While on their middle-school basketball team, 12-year-old seventh graders Doe and Roe were sexually harassed by four eighth-grade teammates in the school locker room. On one occasion, three of the eighth graders grabbed Doe and held him down, while the fourth removed Doe’s shorts and attempted to sodomize him with a marker. On other occasions, the eighth graders subjected Doe and Roe to “lights out” sessions in which the older boys blocked the door, turned off the lights, and simulated sexual gyrations on the younger boys. Another time, one of the eighth graders attempted to pull down Roe’s shorts. On yet another occasion, the eighth-grade students taunted Roe into doing a sit-up while blindfolded and, and he was trying to sit up, one of the students dropped his pants and placed his naked buttocks in Roe’s face.

Although the coach allegedly became aware of the attempted sodomy incident within days, he failed to immediately report it or discipline the offending students. After learning of the incident, Doe’s mother went to the school principal, who denied knowledge of it. Doe’s mother then received a call from the coach apologizing for the incident. The four students involved were subsequently suspended for 10 days, and Doe’s father and Roe’s mother, together with another parent, met with the superintendent and notified her of additional incidents of student-on-student harassment and bullying that had occurred in the boys’ locker room. Roe’s mother also advised the principal and superintendent that other students were threatening her son to keep quiet about the incidents.

When the threats and intimidation continued, Roe’s mother removed him from the school. About a week later, the school’s disciplinary board voted to terminate the disciplinary action against the four suspended students and reinstate them to the basketball team. The following month, Doe’s mother removed him from the school, fearing for his safety.

Both boys suffered emotional distress and severe humiliation.

Doe’s and Roe’s parents sued the school system for violation of Title IX, which prohibits sexual harassment of students. The plaintiffs claimed that school officials had actual knowledge of the harassment and acted with deliberate indifference by failing to institute an appropriate disciplinary response.

The jury found the school board responsible and awarded $100,000 to each student. The plaintiffs anticipate posttrial motions.

Citation: Mathis v. Wayne Co., No. 1:09-cv-0034 (M.D. Tenn. June 9, 2011).

Plaintiff counsel: AAJ member Edmund J. Schmidt, Nashville, and Ann Johnson, Houston.

Plaintiff expert: Carole de Casal, school administration, Nashville.

– See more at: https://blog.triallawyerscollege.orgPost.aspx?g=4f2d0e6a-50aa-4645-80e2-3bd96e4895e3#sthash.pEbiPUt2.dpuf