In The News

The mother of a disabled child filed suit this week in federal court in Connecticut against the Bridgeport Board of Education and one of its administrators. Last year the student was assaulted in class by her Music teacher. The Board later terminated the perpetrator. The plaintiff alleges that the defendants knew the teacher had a history of discriminating against the child for her disability but took no steps to prevent the assault. The claim, McManus v. Board of Education et al, 3:17-cv-1293, was filed under Section 504...Read more

Last month a Superior Court judge held that a teacher could proceed to trial with her claim of discrimination.

After gaining tenure the teacher developed Multiple Sclerosis. Her doctor advised her to work shorter hours. She requested accommodations from her employer. One was to teach part-time. Her district answered that full-time teaching was an "essential function" of the position and denied her request.

Although the teacher agreed that all the other full-time teachers...Read more

A Superior Court judge dismissed a Connecticut public school teacher’s complaint against an assistant principal for recklessness. The teacher had criticized the assistant principal’s failure to discipline students the teacher had referred. In a meeting with their principal the teacher had accused the assistant principal of ignoring the behavior of a particularly dangerous boy. Afterwards the assistant principal swore to make the teacher pay for his remark. A few months later the same student deliberately swung his...Read more

 In 2013 a woman at Columbia University complained that another student had raped her. The school’s Title IX hearing cleared him. She never pressed criminal charges.

What she did do was carry a mattress  for the next two years everywhere she went on campus. The symbolism of her protest made national news. Finally, at graduation in 2015, Columbia allowed her to carry the mattress onto the stage as she accepted her degree.

The accused sued. He had never sued...Read more

Last week a family came to me as a Connecticut Title IX attorney.  Their daughter had been sexually harassed. Another girl had accosted her several times in a locker room. The victim told an assistant principal and a guidance counselor about it. Neither investigated. They seemed to think same-sex conduct could not amount to harassment. They reacted by ‘counseling’ both girls.    

For more than twenty years the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has addressed the responsibilities of school officials when informed of potential sexual abuse. In “Dear...Read more

This week the Associated Press reported that 17,000 American students were sexually assaulted between 2011 and 2015.

The AP counted attacks they found in records of the FBI and state education departments. It used the FBI’s definition of ‘assault’ as forced sex. Unwanted fondling happened most often, but one in five students was raped, sodomized or penetrated with an object.

Although most victims were children aged 10 to 14, 5% of the victims were 5- and 6-year-olds. Forty percent of the younger ones were...Read more

            Thirty-five years ago in the Rowley case the United States Supreme Court decided how much a special education student’s program should provide. In the years since parents have challenged schools to prove they met the standard for their child. Last week the Court ruled again on the same subject. Its decision meant to shed light and provide guidance to all parties. Unfortunately, its language leaves the everyone still up in the air. 

            Rowley laid down a very general standard. Individualized plans had to provide the “benefits” of an education....Read more

Last month the United States Supreme Court heard argument on a question will affect millions of students and millions of dollars.

The case concerned an autistic student from Colorado named Endrew. Disappointed by his lack of progress in class, his parents believed that his school had not provided him the ‘free appropriate education’ guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. They enrolled their son in a private school and sent the bill for $70,00 in tuition to the district.   

In the Supreme Court they advanced an argument that parents of such...Read more

In March of this year Yale expelled Jack Montague for nonconsensual sex with another student. According to his lawyers, the university railroaded the star basketball player just to burnish its record in Title IX cases.

Three years ago Yale disciplined the then-freshman Montague for sticking a rolled-up paper plate down a different woman’s shirt. Administrators found that incident not ‘sexual in nature.’ Montague agreed to sanctions and counseling.

His lawyers say the university used the next incident as a pretext to help their own image. They contend that the woman in...Read more

When a board of education suspends or expels one of its students, it notes the misbehavior on the student’s cumulative record. As any Fairfield County school attorney should tell you, this stays on the record until the student graduates from high school.

This puts college-bound students in an uncomfortable position. Colleges and universities ask applicants to state on oath if their school disciplined them. The Common Application asks them to explain any "disciplinary violation" related to "academic…or behavioral misconduct." Once the Application is in, seniors are instructed to"...Read more