Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Case Raises Question of Title IX's Application to Private High School

A recently-filed federal lawsuit claims that Poly Prep High School in Brooklyn violated Title IX by responding with deliberate indifference to knowledge that a football coach was sexually abusing his student-athletes. This case is vulnerable to dismissal on the grounds that Poly Prep is a private school that does not directly receive federal funds. But the plaintiffs' lawyer reportedly plans to argue that the school's tax-exempt status is the equivalent of a federal subsidy, and as such Title IX should apply. While there does not appear to be conclusive legal precedent on this question,one federal court has labeled it a "nonfrivolous argument" (for purposes of settling a question of federal subject matter jurisdiction) because tax exemptions have been deemed to count as federal financial assistance in the context of other laws. See M.D.H. v. Westminster Schools, 172 F.3d 797 (11th Cir. 1999).