Friday, February 26, 2010

Litigation Updates

Here is a roundup of recent developments in ongoing Title IX cases that we've blogged about before.
  • Potential settlement in J.L. v. Mohawk Central School District. This is the gay bullying case in upstate New York, that was filed by the ACLU last summer and in which the Department of Justice recently intervened on the side of the plaintiff. News reports suggest that the parties recently considered a settlement agreement that would have provided $50,000 to the plaintiff, $25,000 to the ACLU, district-wide training on appropriate responses to anti-gay harassment, and payment to cover the plaintiff's continued therapy. However, this agreement was never signed off upon and the parties have "moved beyond" this particular draft, according to school district's attorney quoted in the article. The article suggests that the draft settlement is evidence that the parties are at least considering settlement, as well as the general topics on the negotiation table.
  • Hearing in Doe v. Vermilion Parish School Board. Last fall we blogged about the ACLU's challenge to the sex-segregated classes in Rene Rost Middle School under the Constitution and Title IX. On Thursday, the federal district court in Louisiana heard arguments in support of the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, which would halt single sex education while the judge considered the merits of the case. An ACLU attorney recently posted this summary and analysis of the case at the Huffington Post blog.
  • Denial of defendant's motion to dismiss Mary V. v. Pittsburgh Public Schools. This is the case that made news last summer because the plaintiff alleged that the school failed to protect her daughter from bullying that was so severe, it contributed to psychological harm, including anorexia. Judge Ambrose (who Title IX fans may remember from the Slippery Rock litigation) determined that the plaintiff's case could go forward because she had adequately plead all of the elements of a Title IX peer harassment case. In particular, that the harassment was motivated by the victim's sex (in particular, her "developing adult female figure"), that plaintiff and her daughter had met with school officials about the harassment, thus providing actual notice, that the school district's response was inadequate to amount to deliberate indifference, and that the harassment occurred on a daily basis and throughout the day, and thus was severe and pervasive. This decision paves the way for litigation to continue. Next steps may include discovery, additional dispositive motions, trial, or in the alternative, settlement. The decision on the motion can be found at 2010 W.L. 562909 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 17, 2010).