Friday, January 29, 2010

City of Nashville Pays > $1 Million to Victim of School Bus Assault

The City of Nashville recently settled with a parent and the Department of Justice, whose lawsuit challenged the school district's failure to protect the plaintiff's 9 year old, autistic son from peer-on-peer sexual assault on the school bus provided to children with special needs. Last July, a federal district court denied the city's motion for summary judgment on several claims, including a Title IX claim, after determining that prior instances of assault on special needs school buses -- including by the perpetrator of assault in the instant case -- could be viewed as having put the city on notice of the risk to the plaintiff's son. Under the settlement, the city will pay $1.475 million to the victim to compensate him for damages resulting from the assault, including severe post-traumatic stress disorder. The city must also take preventive measures to protect students going forward, including staffing bus monitors on special needs buses, screening procedures to ensure that students are not assigned to buses where they would be at risk, expediting investigation of sexual harassment claims by students with disabilities, and improving communication between transportation officials and school personnel.

Decision on summary judgment is here: Lopez v. Municipal Gov't of Nashville, 646 F.2d 891 (M.D. Tenn. 2009).