The court described the behavior of a high school student as “boorish and lewd,” noting that “the alleged behavior is something that should not be occurring in a public education setting.” But that does not always amount to a Title IX claim. To make a Title IX claim against a school district based on what one student has done to another student, the plaintiff has to show that 1) someone with authority to address the situation knew about it; 2) the behavior was “severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive;” and 3) the district responded with deliberate indifference. In the case of Sumrall v. Rockwall ISD the plaintiff failed to meet any of those standards.
The suit alleged that a student called another student a nasty name and rubbed his foot up and down the leg of that student’s blue jeans. This was reported to school officials, who promptly addressed the situation. There was no evidence of subsequent misconduct. So no “deliberate indifference.” Nor did any district official know about any “boorish and lewd” conduct by this student before this one incident. And the one incident simply didn’t measure up to “severe, pervasive, or objectively offensive” as those terms have been interpreted in previous cases.
The court had previously dismissed two school administrators from this case, and now the district has also been dismissed. Ali Mosser from our firm’s Irving Office ably advocated for the district in this case, obtaining this Summary Judgment in favor of the district.
It was decided on July 19, 2021 by the federal court for the Northern District of Texas.
DAWG BONE: IT’S THE BASICS AGAIN: INVESTIGATE; TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION; DOCUMENT; COMMUNICATE.
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