WE’RE ZOOMING WITH THE DAWG THIS THURSDAY AT 10! BE SURE TO JOIN FOR A LIVELY DISCUSSION.
Seeing as how it’s a Monday in the heart of football season, let’s talk about Monday Morning Quarterbacking. MMQBing is a popular pastime all over America, but should not be done when judges review the judgment calls that educators make. And usually, they don’t.
A good example comes our way via the 5th Circuit. The court dismissed a case in which a former student in Austin ISD accused the district of being deliberately indifferent to racial discrimination. This is not a case in which a teacher or administrator is accused of racial discrimination. The case is about racial slurs and graffiti by other students. In a student-to-student case like this the plaintiff has to prove that the district knew what happened and responded to it with deliberate indifference. The plaintiff here failed to satisfy that standard. Case dismissed.
The court relied on Fennell v. Marion ISD, 804 F.3d 398 (5th Cir. 2015) which it described as “this circuit’s seminal case on Title VI claims for student-on-student harassment.” The Fennell case “teaches that whether a defendant’s response to harassment is reasonable is a contextual inquiry made in light of the severity of the harassment at issue.” The district’s response is to be viewed “in the totality and in light of the severity of the harassment.”
In this case the district simply did not know about some of the incidents that occurred until the suit was filed. There were other incidents that were reported to the school, and they were investigated and dealt with. As is often the case in suits of this nature, the plaintiff argued that the school should have taken stronger action to protect this student from racial harassment by her classmates. The court noted that “Administrators are entitled to make these decisions without second-guessing from courts.”
It's Sneed v. Austin ISD, decided by the 5th Circuit on October 4, 2022.
DAWG BONE: IF THE DISTRICT RESPONDS REASONABLY, THE COURTS WILL NOT PLAY MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
Got a question or comment for the Dawg? Let me hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday!!