Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Teacher Harassment Case Settles for $600K

The Susquehanna Township School District in Pennsylvania will reportedly pay $600,000 to settle a lawsuit filed against it by a former student who alleged she was sexually assaulted by a drivers education instructor, and who thereafter was harassed at school for filing charges against him. We have blogged about this case before when the court denied the defendant's motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment. In the latter, the judge determined that the instructor's violation of school policies in the past should have put it on notice that female students were at risk. The judge faulted the school district for taking a “lackadaisical approach” to disciplining the instructor, noting that if officials had followed up to ensure that he was complying with, for example, the policy prohibiting him from being alone with students during "behind the wheel" instruction, it could have prevented plaintiff's assault.

The article linked above notes that Susquehanna lacks the legally-required Title IX Coordinator -- a person designated to receive Title IX complaints from students and oversee the districts implementation of the law. And the superintendent "doesn't know of any district that does" have one. (Hello? OCR?) It's not clear from the article whether that is an issue being addressed by the settlement, but hopefully the district appoints a Title IX coordinator as part of its reported efforts to improve sexual harassment policy going forward.