« Survey: Practices Vary at Schools That Must Report on Students With Disabilities | Main | Alternative Education Track Would See New Scrutiny Under Federal Bill »

Federal Appeals Court to Hear Case Involving Sexual-Harassment Sting

A federal court has agreed to hear the appeal of an Alabama woman who says she was sexually assaulted in a botched sting against another student in her school back in 2010.

The student, who was 14 at the time and in special education, was enrolled in the 20,000-student Madison district at the time of the incident. The student said she told a teacher's aide that a 16-year-old male classmate with a history of sexual harassment had propositioned her several times. The aide asked if the student would meet her classmate—who also had disabilities—in a school bathroom to try to catch him in the act. The female student followed through, but teachers didn't intervene in time to stop the attack, the student said. Local prosecutors investigated but declined to file charges against the classmate.

The family of the victim, now 19, filed a lawsuit against the district and several employees, but most of it was dismissed in 2013. The judge who heard the case said that the administrators and teachers did not intend to subject the female student to harm. The family appealed that decision, with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice, which argued that the situation was a violation of Title IX for demonstrating deliberate indifference to sexual harassment. The appeal of the dismissal is what will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, and the date for oral arguments has not been set. 

I wrote an extensive piece on the case, with links to the decisions and friend-of-the-court briefs, back in September. Students with disabilities are more likely than their typically-developing peers to be sexually abused or harassed, research has shown.

The victim, now 19, gave an interview to CNN. Asking to be identifed as "Jaden," she said she felt "set up" by teachers. 

"I thought they were going to do what they said they were going to do—and be there and stop him—just get him in trouble," she told the news channel. 

The Associated Press reports that the school district argued in a court filing this week that the student should be required to reveal her name because she is no longer a juvenile. 

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments

  • sdc teach: I agree with the previous post regarding the high cost read more
  • Jason: That alert is from 2001. Is there anything more recent read more
  • Vikki Mahaffy: I worked as a special education teacher for 18 years read more
  • paulina rickards: As it relates to this research I am in total read more
  • Anonymous: Fully fund the RTI process. We are providing special education read more