Title IX is a comprehensive federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in educational institutions, covering the very youngest public school children through adult students in our highest institutions. Most specifically, Title IX prohibits sexual discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding.
Title IX claims are among the hardest lawsuits a law firm will face. Initially, Title IX was a powerful tool to curb, curtail, and help stop sexual violence and/or harassment within our schools. In 2020, the general rules set forth in 1972 changed which made it harder to pursue Title IX.
But instances of sexual abuse, assault, battery, discrimination, and coercion are still viable claims under Title IX. Claims based on gender-based bullying, unwanted sexual behavior, inappropriate behavior, or abusive and offensive behavior – accompanied by physical and/or severe emotional damages – are actionable.
Schools have an immunity that provides substantial protection, so to successfully pursue a Title IX claim in Georgia one needs to show deliberate indifference on the part of the school’s administration.
So, what is immunity and deliberate indifference?
Immunity for any governmental agency goes back to jolly old England and meant ‘you can’t sue the King.’ Today, you can sue the King, but a host of rules apply. Deliberate indifference, for purposes of suing a public educational institution, is akin to ‘on-purpose’. This means the administration must be aware that a dangerous condition exists, which may mean a predatory teacher. Here’s a great order we obtained in the case of App. County site.
We’ve represented a number of students victimized by teachers. Recently, adding to the difficulty in pursuing these cases, recent rules have narrowed the definition of what is considered sexual harassment and the “rules” to pursue claims are complicated.
We have represented several students victimized by teachers throughout the years. In 2017, for example, Isenberg & Hewitt filed suit on behalf of a high school student who was sexually assaulted by one of her teachers. During litigation we found that several other young and vulnerable female students were also victimized by the same teacher. We successfully represented five (5) students victimized by this predator.
In 2016, Isenberg & Hewitt filed suit on behalf of two young men who were sexually abused by one of their teachers. Civil actions against the school district and some of its officials were filed on behalf of the young male victims. Ultimately, we were able to achieve the highest award available in Georgia for such reprehensible conduct.
Public schools and teachers are aggressively defended, and pursuing justice against them can be costly and time consuming. Every situation and every fact pattern is different. We can’t turn back the clock on these incidents, but we can do something when the unspeakable happens.
Want to learn more or talk about your case? Contact us at 770-202-9481.